To describe a person or a solution that takes a realistic approach, consider the adjective pragmatic. The four-year-old who wants a unicorn for her birthday isn't being very pragmatic.

The opposite of idealistic is pragmatic, a word that describes a philosophy of "doing what works best." From Greek pragma, "deed," the word has historically described philosophers and politicians who were concerned more with real-world application of ideas than with abstract notions. A pragmatic person is sensible, grounded, and practical — and doesn't expect a birthday celebration filled with magical creatures.

Definitions of pragmatic
  1. adjective
    concerned with practical matters
    synonyms: matter-of-fact, pragmatical
    concerned with actual use or practice
  2. adjective
    of or concerning the theory of pragmatism
    synonyms: pragmatical
  3. adjective
    guided by practical experience and observation rather than theory
    “not ideology but pragmatic politics”
    synonyms: hard-nosed, hardheaded, practical
    aware or expressing awareness of things as they really are
  4. noun
    an imperial decree that becomes part of the fundamental law of the land
    synonyms: pragmatic sanction
    see moresee less
    type of:
    imperial decree
    a decree issued by a sovereign ruler
Commonly confused words

pragmatic / dogmatic

If you're pragmatic, you're practical. You're living in the real world, wearing comfortable shoes. If you're dogmatic, you follow the rules. You're living in the world you want, and acting a little stuck up about it.

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