pragmatist (plural pragmatists)

  1. One who acts in a practical or straightforward manner; one who is pragmatic; one who values practicality or pragmatism.
    A pragmatist would never plant such a messy tree, but I like its flowers.
  2. One who acts in response to particular situations rather than upon abstract ideals; one who is willing to ignore their ideals to accomplish goals.
    I'm not a thief, I am a pragmatist. I need this bread to feed my family.
    We cannot trust him not to lie for his own gain: he's an opportunist and a pragmatist.
  3. One who belongs to the philosophic school of pragmatism; one who holds that the meaning of beliefs are the actions they entail, and that the truth of those beliefs consist in the actions they entail successfully leading a believer to their goals.
    • 2007, John Lachs and Robert Talisse, American Philosophy: An Encyclopedia, p. 310.
      [S]ome pragmatists (such as William James) took a more pantheist or pandeist approach by rejecting views of God as separate from the world.
  4. (politics) An advocate of pragmatism.
  5. One who studies pragmatics.
Related terms Adjective


  1. (politics) Advocating pragmatism.
    • Historians also suggest that Roosevelt was a pragmatist in foreign affairs, in that his policies were determined by practical consequences rather than by any philosophy.

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