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[ik-spee-dee-uh nt] /ɪkˈspi di ənt/
tending to promote some proposed or desired object; fit or suitable for the purpose; proper under the circumstances:
It is expedient that you go.
conducive to advantage or interest, as opposed to right.
acting in accordance with expediency, or what is advantageous.
a means to an end:
The ladder was a useful expedient for getting to the second floor.
a means devised or employed in an exigency; resource; shift:
Use any expedients you think necessary to get over the obstacles in your way.
Origin of expedient
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin expedient- (stem of expediēns), present participle of expedīre. See expedite, -ent
Related forms
expediently, adverb
nonexpedient, adjective
nonexpediently, adverb
quasi-expedient, adjective
quasi-expediently, adverb
unexpedient, adjective
unexpediently, adverb
1. advisable, appropriate, desirable; advantageous, profitable. 5. device, contrivance, resort.
1. disadvantageous. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for expedients
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • From this we gather that his mind was fertile in expedients.

  • This has become the writer's practice after careful trial of other expedients.

    College Teaching Paul Klapper
  • You don't know what a wonderful creature I am for expedients.

    The Bramleighs Of Bishop's Folly Charles James Lever
  • He was a Master of expedients; the greatest probably the world has ever seen.

  • He was a great man, and full of expedients, but the position was novel.

    In Kings' Byways Stanley J. Weyman
  • These expedients diminished a little the ardour of their thirst.

    Perils and Captivity Charlotte-Adlade [ne Picard] Dard
  • I am sure that he is shrewd, and he ought to be full of expedients.

  • Some of the expedients adopted were harmless, though silly; others were cruel.

    Welsh Folk-Lore Elias Owen
  • We ought to make it convenient and pleasant by all the expedients within our power.

    Bertha and Her Baptism Nehemiah Adams
British Dictionary definitions for expedients


suitable to the circumstances; appropriate
inclined towards methods or means that are advantageous rather than fair or just
something suitable or appropriate, esp something used during an urgent situation
Derived Forms
expediently, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Latin expediēns setting free; see expedite
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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Word Origin and History for expedients



late 14c., "advantageous, fit, proper," from Old French expedient (14c.) or directly from Latin expedientem (nominative expediens) "beneficial," present participle of expedire "make fit or ready, prepare" (see expedite).

The noun meaning "a device adopted in an exigency, a resource" is from 1650s. Related: Expediential (1836); expedientially (1873); expediently (late 14c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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