pragmatism

noun
prag·​ma·​tism | \ ˈprag-mə-ˌti-zəm How to pronounce pragmatism (audio) \

Definition of pragmatism

1 : a practical approach to problems and affairs tried to strike a balance between principles and pragmatism
2 : an American movement in philosophy founded by C. S. Peirce and William James and marked by the doctrines that the meaning of conceptions is to be sought in their practical bearings, that the function of thought is to guide action, and that truth is preeminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief

Other Words from pragmatism

pragmatist \ ˈprag-​mə-​tist How to pronounce pragmatism (audio) \ adjective or noun
pragmatistic \ ˌprag-​mə-​ˈti-​stik How to pronounce pragmatism (audio) \ adjective

Examples of pragmatism in a Sentence

To put it rather more crudely, he is trying to sell his integrationist and reformist agenda using traditionalist legal wrappings. It is, of course, this pragmatism, which sometimes comes across as slippery casuistry, that so annoys his critics. — Malise Ruthven, New York Review of Books, 16 Aug. 2007 These are books without slogans, manuals that favor subtlety over simplicity, moderation over bombast, pragmatism over ideology. — Jonathan Tepperman, New York Times Book Review, 16 Oct 2005 … compromise (or better yet, its spirit) symbolizes the necessary pragmatism expected of politics in a pluralist society. — Jack N. Rakove, Original Meanings … , 1996 The right person for the job will balance vision with pragmatism.
Recent Examples on the Web Stacy Blythe, Big Loud’s senior vice-president of promotion, is in charge of airplay, a job that requires a mixture of optimism and pragmatism. Kelefa Sanneh, The New Yorker, 13 June 2022 Kendall envisioned a system that would incentivize civility and pragmatism, dilute the influence of political parties and dark money, and deliver consensus winners with broad appeal. Dan Zak, Washington Post, 9 June 2022 Being open about the risks of our ideas shows humility, integrity and pragmatism. Andrés De Jongh, Forbes, 2 May 2022 Desmond Tutu was a patriot without equal; a leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the biblical insight that faith without works is dead. Jd Knapp, PEOPLE.com, 26 Dec. 2021 So, find the places and people who are interrupting fatphobic narratives and let their compassion and pragmatism fill your head and heart. Marina Gomberg, The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 May 2021 Clark’s willingness to engage with anyone who would talk to him was only matched by his pragmatism, with a nearly singular focus on getting things done, said Jack McGowan, who served as Clark’s press secretary for part of his first term. oregonlive, 15 May 2022 But not everything about the outlook is traditional; his pragmatism comes with surprises. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 22 Apr. 2022 But if clean energy is to have a chance, pragmatism and profit motive must rule the day. Christopher Helman, Forbes, 27 May 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of pragmatism

circa 1864, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pragmatism

see pragmatic

Learn More About pragmatism

Time Traveler for pragmatism

Time Traveler

The first known use of pragmatism was circa 1864

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near pragmatism

pragmatic sanction

pragmatism

pragmatize

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for pragmatism

Last Updated

25 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pragmatism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pragmatism. Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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