[prag-muh-tiz-uh m]
See more synonyms for pragmatism on
  1. character or conduct that emphasizes practicality.
  2. a philosophical movement or system having various forms, but generally stressing practical consequences as constituting the essential criterion in determining meaning, truth, or value.

Origin of pragmatism

First recorded in 1860–65; pragmat(ic) + -ism
Related formsprag·ma·tis·tic, adjectivean·ti·prag·ma·tism, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pragmatism

Contemporary Examples of pragmatism

Historical Examples of pragmatism

  • The extremes of mysticism and of pragmatism have their own expressions of worship.

    Breaking Point

    James E. Gunn

  • It is perhaps as a matter of "taste" that pragmatism proves most unsatisfactory to it.

    The Complex Vision

    John Cowper Powys

  • We hadn't talked a minute before he handed me "pragmatism" and "zing-slingers."

    At Good Old Siwash

    George Fitch

  • I am not concerned to question this so far as the origin of pragmatism is concerned.

  • We have seen in the last chapter that pragmatism is both a criticism and a theory.

    The Problem of Truth

    H. Wildon Carr

British Dictionary definitions for pragmatism


  1. action or policy dictated by consideration of the immediate practical consequences rather than by theory or dogma
  2. philosophy
    1. the doctrine that the content of a concept consists only in its practical applicability
    2. the doctrine that truth consists not in correspondence with the facts but in successful coherence with experienceSee also instrumentalism
Derived Formspragmatist, noun, adjectivepragmatistic, adjective
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 pragmatism

"matter-of-fact treatment," 1825, from Greek pragmat-, stem of pragma "that which has been done" (see pragmatic) + -ism. As a philosophical doctrine, 1898, said to be from 1870s; probably from German Pragmatismus. As a name for a political theory, from 1951. Related: Pragmatist (1630s as "busybody;" 1892 as "adherent of a pragmatic philosophy").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pragmatism in Medicine


  1. A way of approaching situations or solving problems that emphasizes practical applications and consequences.
Related formsprag•matic (-mătĭk) adj.pragma•tist n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

pragmatism in Culture


An approach to philosophy, primarily held by American philosophers, which holds that the truth or meaning of a statement is to be measured by its practical (i.e., pragmatic) consequences. William James and John Dewey were pragmatists.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.