noun (used with a singular verb)

Logic, Philosophy. the branch of semiotics dealing with the causal and other relations between words, expressions, or symbols and their users.
Linguistics. the analysis of language in terms of the situational context within which utterances are made, including the knowledge and beliefs of the speaker and the relation between speaker and listener.
practical considerations.

Origin of pragmatics

First recorded in 1935–40; see origin at pragmatic, -ics



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.


Archaic. an officious or meddlesome person.

Origin of pragmatic

1580–90; < Latin prāgmaticus < Greek prāgmatikós practical, equivalent to prāgmat- (stem of prâgma) deed, state business (derivative of prā́ssein to do, fare; see practic) + -ikos -ic
Related formsprag·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, adjectivean·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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for pragmatics

symbolism, parole, semantics, langue, syntactics

Examples from the Web for pragmatics

Historical Examples of pragmatics

British Dictionary definitions for pragmatics


noun (functioning as singular)

the study of those aspects of language that cannot be considered in isolation from its use
the study of the relation between symbols and those who use them



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 Formspragmaticality, 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

Word Origin and History for pragmatics



1610s, "meddlesome, impertinently busy," short for earlier pragmatical, or else from Middle French pragmatique (15c.), from Latin pragmaticus "skilled in business or law," from Greek pragmatikos "fit for business, active, business-like; systematic," from pragma (genitive pragmatos) "a deed, act; that which has been done; a thing, matter, affair," especially an important one; also a euphemism for something bad or disgraceful; in plural, "circumstances, affairs" (public or private), often in a bad sense, "trouble," literally "a thing done," from stem of prassein/prattein "to do, act, perform" (see practical). Meaning "matter-of-fact" is from 1853. In some later senses from German pragmatisch.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper