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Expedient Definition Example Essays

This reference comes right away, in the first paragraph of Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience.” The full sentence reads:

Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient.

He’s using the term first as a noun, when we most often use it as an adjective. One dictionary defines “expedient” in noun form as “a means to an end.” As an adjective, the word is “based on or...

This reference comes right away, in the first paragraph of Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience.” The full sentence reads:

Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient.

He’s using the term first as a noun, when we most often use it as an adjective. One dictionary defines “expedient” in noun form as “a means to an end.” As an adjective, the word is “based on or offering what is of use or advantage rather than what is right or just; suited to the circumstances or to the occasion; convenient.” In other words: government has to create a base from which to serve and manage a large group of people. It’s going to find a way to do this in the most convenient way possible. Unfortunately, some people may be left out and not served well as a result. Thoreau’s essay therefore criticizes the government for addressing only the greater majority of the population, and for not finding a way to serve individuals.

Here are two examples from the United States. Each state manages the issuing of driver’s licenses. It used to be that residents would get paper notices in the mail whenever their licenses were due to be renewed, either every year or every other year. Some states have done away with these notices in order to save paper, money, and time. Instead, the renewals are due around the time of the drivers’ birthdays, and the drivers themselves are responsible for knowing when they need to renew. Then they need to go to a government office to get new licenses. This system is convenient and expedient for the state, but not necessarily for the drivers. Some folks would probably benefit from mailed reminders. Who looks at a driver’s license to see if it’s still valid?

Another example surrounds the controversial issue of federal health care insurance. One political party put a plan in place, and it seemed to work for the majority of the people who needed to use it. But when another political party came into power, it wanted to do away with that plan and create its own. People who were using the first plan would have to go without coverage for a time before the second plan was ready to put into place. This strategy would be convenient and expedient for the party in power, because it could put its own brand on the system. But millions of people could be left without insurance in the interim.

The economythus becomes an expedient tool for political gains. Times, Sunday Times (2012)Only now that it has become commercially expedient are they showing any conscience. Times, Sunday Times (2013)An action is expedient when it is suitable to the end in view. Times, Sunday Times (2011)The welfareapproach is a temporary expedient.Peter F. Drucker MANAGEMENT: task, responsibilities, practices (1974)It was no more than a temporary expedient.Grenville, J. A. S. The Collins History of the World in the 20th Century (1994)Mortgagelending was controlled by the simple expedient of rationing. Times, Sunday Times (2014)He got his way by the simple expedient of votingtwice. Times, Sunday Times (2010)Under the scheme the councilwill be able to do so by the simple expedient of branding them inefficient. Times, Sunday Times (2007)By the simple expedient of not being very important, it brings out the best in a manager. Times, Sunday Times (2012)Anglicanism was a political expedient rather than a doctrinal necessity, which explains why its theologicalcontent has always been light. Times, Sunday Times (2012)Cyclistsneed to take responsibility for their own actions, through the simple expedient of stayingaway from a manoeuvring large vehicle. Times, Sunday Times (2011)But, they insist, it is merely a temporary expedient. Times, Sunday Times (2009)But the gesture, largely a political expedient, was not all it seemed.Butt, Gerald A Rock and a Hard Place (1994)By the simple expedient of removing dummy's ace of clubs, declareravoided any such quandary. Times, Sunday Times (2006)Without it, the eurozone economies will stumble from one temporary expedient to another, amid much human misery. Times, Sunday Times (2013)The proposal is not aimed at improving the quality of the service provided to victims of crime and witnesses... but rather an expedient to save money. Times, Sunday Times (2007)Secondly, the centrality of nuclear deterrence to the current system of armedpeace is dangerous and a short-term expedient only.McInnes, Colin NATO's Changing Strategic Agenda (1990)He added: 'I think if one is being sensitive to the feelings of others then it may not be expedient. Times, Sunday Times (2014)That might be a short-term expedient to buy him time but it would not be in the long-terminterests of the business. Times, Sunday Times (2006)In time said ADD becomes less expedient, more pathological. Times, Sunday Times (2013)

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