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

Essential Meaning of pragmatism

formal : a reasonable and logical way of doing things or of thinking about problems that is based on dealing with specific situations instead of on ideas and theories The right person for the job will balance vision with pragmatism.

Full 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web There was something lighter about Teresa on the islands, a refreshing glimpse of why her RHONJ allies stick by her aside from pragmatism. Louis Peitzman, Vulture, 14 Dec. 2021 Joining a car was a matter of pragmatism, necessitated by safety and camaraderie. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, 13 Dec. 2021 Beyond being a form of escapism, however, platforms again rose in popularity in the 1930s due to pragmatism, Hemmelseck speculated. CNN, 2 Dec. 2021 Deal by deal, and despite the constraints of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, pragmatism is making the case for day-to-day cooperation as a foundation for understanding and interdependence. Dina Kraft, The Christian Science Monitor, 9 Nov. 2021 Simply put, pragmatism concerns itself with the practical outcomes of our actions, ideas or plans. Nicholas Earls, Forbes, 29 Oct. 2021 The heart-wrenching dilemma facing Freda sits in stark contrast with Esther’s pragmatism. Richard Kuipers, Variety, 19 Dec. 2021 Hence, the industry is calling for energy pragmatism. Gaurav Sharma, Forbes, 9 Dec. 2021 Biden campaigned on his ability to bring people together and deliver, contrasting his pragmatism with opponent Bernie Sanders in the primary. PRES. NBC News, 3 Oct. 2021

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.

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First Known Use of pragmatism

circa 1864, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pragmatism

see pragmatic

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Time Traveler for pragmatism

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The first known use of pragmatism was circa 1864

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Dictionary Entries Near pragmatism

pragmatic sanction



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Last Updated

20 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pragmatism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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