ra·​ti·​o·​ci·​na·​tion ˌra-tē-ˌō-sə-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce ratiocination (audio)
: the process of exact thinking : reasoning
: a reasoned train of thought
ˌra-tē-ˈō-sə-ˌnā-tiv How to pronounce ratiocination (audio)

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Edgar Allan Poe is said to have called the 1841 story "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" his first "tale of ratiocination." Many today agree with his assessment and consider that Poe classic to be literature's first detective story. Poe didn't actually use ratiocination in "Rue Morgue," but the term does appear three times in its 1842 sequel, "The Mystery of Marie Roget." In "Marie Roget," the author proved his reasoning ability (ratiocination traces to ratio, Latin for "reason" or "computation"). The second tale was based on an actual murder, and as the case unfolded after the publication of Poe's work, it became clear that his fictional detective had done an amazing job of reasoning through the crime.

Examples of ratiocination in a Sentence

as an expert in ratiocination, the detective Sherlock Holmes has few rivals
Recent Examples on the Web No ratiocination similar to Parker’s point system. WIRED, 23 Feb. 2023 The reliance of reason vs. emotion, individual ratiocination vs. historical or social wisdom, may vary. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 29 Jan. 2012 Outside of pure math our powers of ratiocination are overwhelmed by subjective decisions along the chain of propositions. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 25 Apr. 2013 Once again, using the obtuse ratiocination of her characters, DeWitt aims at nothing less than expanding readerly consciousness, gesturing toward a world of untapped possibility freed from convention. Charles Arrowsmith, Los Angeles Times, 30 Sep. 2022 At the same time that professional men of science were forming the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Poe was lambasting professionals in favor of splendid amateurism and personal ratiocination. Colin Dickey, The New Republic, 21 July 2021 The surface of the table was taken up with all sorts of paraphernalia superfluous, not to say impedimental, to ratiocination. Hermione Hoby, New York Times, 1 June 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ratiocination.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1532, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ratiocination was in 1532


Dictionary Entries Near ratiocination

Cite this Entry

“Ratiocination.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ratiocination. Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

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