1610s, "meddlesome, impertinently busy," short for earlier pragmatical, or else from French pragmatique (15c.), from Latin pragmaticus "skilled in business or law," from Greek pragmatikos "fit for business, active, business-like; systematic," from pragma (genitive pragmatos) "a deed, act; that which has been done; a thing, matter, affair," especially an important one; also a euphemism for something bad or disgraceful; in plural, "circumstances, affairs" (public or private, often in a bad sense, "trouble"), literally "a thing done," from stem of prassein/prattein "to do, act, perform" (see practical).
From 1640s as "relating to the affairs of a state or community." Meaning "matter-of-fact, treating facts systematically and practically" is from 1853 (Matthew Arnold). In some later senses from German pragmatisch.