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EnglishEdit

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EtymologyEdit

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).

PronunciationEdit

AdjectiveEdit

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.
    • 1854 March, J. G., “On the Dating of Ancient History”, in Journal of Classical and Sacred Philology[1], volume 1, page 53:
      Polybius’s pragmatic history is simply the history of affairs, as distinguished from the descriptive and often poetical character which much history before his time had.
    • 1856, Matthew Arnold, Poems, page 16:
      [] such objects belonged to the domain of the comic poet, and of the lighter kinds of poetry. For the more serious kinds, for pragmatic poetry, to use an excellent expression of Polybius, they were more difficult and severe in the range of subjects which they permitted.

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