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  1. tending to promote some proposed or desired object; fit or suitable for the purpose; proper under the circumstances: It is expedient that you go.
  2. conducive to advantage or interest, as opposed to right.
  3. acting in accordance with expediency, or what is advantageous.
  1. a means to an end: The ladder was a useful expedient for getting to the second floor.
  2. 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 formsex·pe·di·ent·ly, adverbnon·ex·pe·di·ent, adjectivenon·ex·pe·di·ent·ly, adverbqua·si-ex·pe·di·ent, adjectivequa·si-ex·pe·di·ent·ly, adverbun·ex·pe·di·ent, adjectiveun·ex·pe·di·ent·ly, adverb

Synonyms for expedient

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for expedient


  1. suitable to the circumstances; appropriate
  2. inclined towards methods or means that are advantageous rather than fair or just
noun Also: expediency
  1. something suitable or appropriate, esp something used during an urgent situation
Derived Formsexpediently, adverb

Word Origin for expedient

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

Word Origin and History for expedient

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