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From Middle French pragmatique, from Late Latin pragmaticus (relating to civil affair; in Latin, as a noun, a person versed in the law who furnished arguments and points to advocates and orators, a kind of attorney), from Ancient Greek πραγματικός (pragmatikós, active, versed in affairs), from πρᾶγμα (prâgma, a thing done, a fact), in plural πράγματα (prágmata, affairs, state affairs, public business, etc.), from πράσσειν (prássein, to do) (whence English practical).



pragmatic (comparative more pragmatic, superlative most pragmatic)

  1. Practical, concerned with making decisions and actions that are useful in practice, not just theory.
    The sturdy furniture in the student lounge was pragmatic, but unattractive.
    • 1988, Andrew Radford, chapter 8, in Transformational grammar: a first course, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, page 423:
      Nor indeed are these restrictions pragmatic in nature: i.e. the ill-formedness of the heed-sentences in (60) is entirely different in kind from the oddity of sentences like:
      (61) !That man will eat any car which thinks heʼs stupid
      which is purely pragmatic (i.e. lies in the fact that (61) describes the kind of bizarre situation which just doesnʼt happen in the world we are familiar with, where cars donʼt think, and people donʼt eat cars).
  2. philosophical; dealing with causes, reasons, and effects, rather than with details and circumstances; said of literature.
    • Sir W. Hamilton
      Pragmatic history.
    • M. Arnold
      Pragmatic poetry.



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