"Pragmatic" Designated as 2011's "Word of the Year"

by Chris W. Rea on

I wasn’t familiar with the tradition, but apparently the English-language experts at Merriam-Webster pick a word each year and designate it “Word of the Year.”

The word “pragmatic” was recently named Word of the Year for 2011. Someone who knows my affinity for the word brought this news to my attention. Thanks, Dan!

“Pragmatic” is the better half of the name of this blog. “Pragmatic” is a good, solid adjective, describing something as “practical as opposed to idealistic.” One of the definitions of the related noun pragmatism is “a practical approach to problems and affairs.”

When it comes to money, I value being practical. I also value financial theory and ideals. But, I value practical application over theory and ideals. If you’re a software developer, you may recognize my value statement as similar to those found in the agile manifesto. While I haven’t yet penned my “Manifesto for Pragmatic Money Management”, my earlier statement might be the first such one.

When I named Pragmatic Money, I intended to describe the place where I’d write down my own practical ideas about money, and where I could develop some practical money tools. I wish I could point back to a legacy of such articles and tools, but I’m just getting started. So, it’s no thanks to me that “pragmatic” won some distinction this year.

Why did “pragmatic” get chosen as Word of the Year? Here’s what the Associated Press (via the Toronto Star) reported:

Though it wasn’t traced to a specific news event or quote from a famous person, searches for “pragmatic” jumped in the weeks before Congress voted in August to increase the nation’s debt ceiling, and again as its supercommittee tried to craft deficit-cutting measures this fall.

“Pragmatic” may have sparked dictionary users’ interest both because they’d heard it in conversations, and because it captures the current American mood of encouraging practicality over frivolity, said John Morse, president and publisher of Springfield, Mass.-based Merriam-Webster.

“’Pragmatic’ is a word that describes a kind of quality that people value in themselves but also look for in others, and look for in policymakers and the activities of people around them,” Morse said.

I hope the choice of “pragmatic” as a Word of the Year doesn’t render it overused and cliché. “Pragmatic” deserves, in my opinion, to remain a respected word. Besides, I already prepaid my domain name registration until 2020 … there was a discount for the long term. :-)

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