prag·​mat·​ic | \ prag-ˈma-tik How to pronounce pragmatic (audio) \
variants: or less commonly pragmatical \ prag-​ˈma-​ti-​kəl How to pronounce pragmatic (audio) \

Essential Meaning of pragmatic

formal : dealing with the problems that exist in a specific situation in a reasonable and logical way instead of depending on ideas and theories a pragmatic [=practical] approach to health care His pragmatic view of public education comes from years of working in city schools. a pragmatic leader

Full Definition of pragmatic

1 : relating to matters of fact or practical affairs often to the exclusion of intellectual or artistic matters : practical as opposed to idealistic a pragmatic leader a pragmatic [=practical] approach to health care
2 : relating to or being in accordance with philosophical pragmatism
3 archaic
a(1) : busy
(2) : officious

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from pragmatic

pragmatic noun
pragmatically \ prag-​ˈma-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce pragmatic (audio) \ adverb

Are you pragmatic?

The word pragmatic has been busy over its more than four centuries of use. Its earliest meanings were "busy," "meddlesome," and "opinionated," but those are now considered archaic uses. The word continues, as it has since the late 19th century, to be used in reference to the philosophical movement of pragmatism (see sense 2). And, as Merriam-Webster Unabridged reports, it also continues to be used in the field of history to describe that which deals with historical events in a way that shows their interconnection. Most often, however, we encounter pragmatic when it is being used to describe people—sometimes ourselves.

So what does it mean for a person to be pragmatic? A person who is pragmatic is concerned more with matters of fact than with what could or should be. A pragmatic person's realm is results and consequences. If that's where your focus is, you may want to apply the word to yourself.

Examples of pragmatic in a Sentence

In their universe, romance is totally detached from pragmatic concerns and societal pressures … — Lev Grossman, Time, 24 Jan. 2005 … their pragmatic successors like Benjamin Franklin were concerned with lightning's … power but not its thrilling scenic value. — John Updike, New York Review of Books, 15 Aug. 2002 pragmatic enough to have held on to their day jobs for years after they were putting out records. — Chris Mundy, Rolling Stone, 16 Sept. 1993 … and her mysticism never failed to exasperate her pragmatic, mountain-climbing daughter. — Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses, 1989 His pragmatic view of public education comes from years of working in city schools. a pragmatic man, not given to grand, visionary schemes
See More
Recent Examples on the Web His pragmatic, problem-solving approach would serve Mr. Close well in the second half of his career. New York Times, 19 Aug. 2021 Hence the feverish effort to convince the world that the Taliban are pragmatic, despite being a radical Islamist entity. Kamran Bokhari, WSJ, 27 Aug. 2021 The administration's defenders say that it's been forced to be pragmatic in the face of a Senate split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans and questions over whether the government could legally stop drilling on leases already sold to companies. Matthew Brown, Star Tribune, 12 July 2021 Then take a pragmatic view on the public versus private cloud considerations by keeping a firm view on the post-migration hybrid operation to avoid fragmented environments and to avoid any consumption waste. Avi Kulshrestha, Forbes, 23 June 2021 Levine wanted to amp up Satine's anti-love songs to further foreground her pragmatic view of romance. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 28 May 2021 For years, Martill has advocated for the legalization of fossil collecting as a pragmatic way of finding scientifically valuable fossils. Michael Greshko, Science, 22 Dec. 2020 Some of them were seeking a life free of prosecution, though many in the US viewed this repatriation as a pragmatic way to avoid slave rebellions, which is a less rosy motivation. Popsci Staff, Popular Science, 28 Oct. 2020 The availability of data, and the gaps where data does not exist, have allowed property advocates to craft thoughtful and pragmatic solutions for this crisis, whether the folks in charge cared to pursue those solutions or not. Daniel Funke, USA TODAY, 10 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pragmatic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of pragmatic

circa 1612, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for pragmatic

Latin pragmaticus skilled in law or business, from Greek pragmatikos, from pragmat-, pragma deed, from prassein to do — more at practical

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About pragmatic

Time Traveler for pragmatic

Time Traveler

The first known use of pragmatic was circa 1612

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near pragmatic




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for pragmatic

Last Updated

13 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pragmatic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on pragmatic

Nglish: Translation of pragmatic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pragmatic for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!