Definition of pragmatic |

[ prag-mat-ik ]

/ prægˈmæt ɪk /


adjective Also prag·mat·i·cal (for defs 1, 2, 5).

of or relating to a practical point of view or practical considerations.

Philosophy. of or relating to pragmatism(def 2).

of or relating to pragmatics(def 1, 2).

treating historical phenomena with special reference to their causes, antecedent conditions, and results.

of or relating to the affairs of state or community.


  1. busy; active.
  2. officious; meddlesome; interfering.
  3. dogmatic; opinionated.




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Origin of pragmatic

1580–90; practic) + -ikos -ic


prag·mat·i·cal·i·ty, prag·mat·i·cal·ness, nounprag·mat·i·cal·ly, adverban·ti·prag·mat·ic, adjectivean·ti·prag·mat·i·cal, adjective

an·ti·prag·mat·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·prag·mat·ic, adjective, nounnon·prag·mat·i·cal, adjectivenon·prag·mat·i·cal·ly, adverbun·prag·mat·ic, adjectiveun·prag·mat·i·cal, adjectiveun·prag·mat·i·cal·ly, adverb

Words nearby pragmatic

praetorius, praetorship, prag, pragmatagnosia, pragmatamnesia, pragmatic, pragmatic sanction, pragmatic theory, pragmaticism, pragmatics, pragmatism Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020


What does pragmatic mean?

Pragmatic means practical, especially when making decisions.

The word pragmatic is often contrasted with the word idealistic, which means based on or having high principles or ideals. Pragmatic, on the other hand, means based on real world conditions or circumstances—considering what can realistically be done as opposed to the best theoretical course of action. A person who acts pragmatically can be called a pragmatist.

The noun form of pragmatic is pragmatism. Pragmatism can mean the practice of being pragmatic, but it can also more specifically refer to the philosophical movement that emphasizes practical consequences in the determination of meaning, truth, or value.

Example: We need a candidate who’s pragmatic and can get things done in the real world—not some idealist who will never compromise.

Where does pragmatic come from?

The first records of the word pragmatic come from the 1580s. It comes from the Greek pragmatikós, meaning “practical,” from pragma, meaning “act,” from prā́ssein, “to do.” The words practical and praxis derive from the same root.

Idealistic people are sometimes told they need to be more pragmatic. Typically, this means that they should focus on the realistic options or courses of action (the pragmatic ones) instead of only trying to achieve the best-case scenario—the one based on their ideals. Of course, many people navigate life with a balance of pragmatism and idealism: sometimes they compromise, and sometimes they stick to their principles no matter what.

The word pragmatic isn’t always contrasted with idealistic. Sometimes, it’s just used as a way of describing something as practical, logical, or sensible. The word is most often applied to people, actions, or plans.

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What are some other forms related to pragmatic?

What are some synonyms for pragmatic?

What are some words that share a root or word element with pragmatic


What are some words that often get used in discussing pragmatic?

How is pragmatic used in real life?

Pragmatic is commonly used in a positive way to praise choices or actions that are considered practical and reasonable. It’s often applied to political positions or actions.



Try using pragmatic!

Which of the following words is LEAST like to describe an action considered pragmatic?

A. realistic
B. sensible
C. utilitarian
D. idealistic

Content related to pragmatic

Words related to pragmatic

hardheaded, businesslike, efficient, down-to-earth, logical, practical, realistic, sober, utilitarian, hard, hard-boiled, matter-of-fact, commonsensical, unidealistic

Example sentences from the Web for pragmatic

British Dictionary definitions for pragmatic


/ (præɡˈmætɪk) /


advocating behaviour that is dictated more by practical consequences than by theory or dogma

philosophy of or relating to pragmatism

involving everyday or practical business

of or concerned with the affairs of a state or community

rare interfering or meddlesome; officious

Also (for senses 3, 5): pragmatical

Derived forms of pragmatic

pragmaticality, nounpragmatically, adverb

Word Origin for pragmatic

C17: from Late Latin prāgmaticus, from Greek prāgmatikos from pragma act, from prattein to do

Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012


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