ra·​tio·​nale | \ ˌra-shə-ˈnal How to pronounce rationale (audio) \

Definition of rationale

1 : an explanation of controlling principles of opinion, belief, practice, or phenomena
2 : an underlying reason : basis

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Rationale comes from Latin ratio, meaning "reason," and rationalis, "endowed with reason." Ratio is reasonably familiar as an English word for the relationship (in number, quantity, or degree) between things.

Examples of rationale in a Sentence

the rationale for starting the school day an hour later is that kids will supposedly get an extra hour of sleep
Recent Examples on the Web Saylor’s rationale for Bitcoin over gold is new discoveries. John Tamny, Forbes, 19 June 2022 Beaverbrook’s rationale for appeasing Hitler was that by doing so Britain could focus on maintaining its empire; Hearst and McCormick believed that American racial superiority meant that the United States should dominate Latin America. Washington Post, 6 May 2022 Since the early Cold War, the main rationale for garrisoning U.S. forces in Europe has been to balance Soviet, and then Russian, power to keep the peace. Benjamin H. Friedman, The Week, 20 Mar. 2022 The initial rationale for the pause was somewhat sound. Beth Akers, National Review, 17 Mar. 2022 In the light of the current surge of new applications, the rationale for winding down reporting requirements is odd. Michael Taylor, San Antonio Express-News, 22 Dec. 2021 So, the really the rationale for the restrictions would be different. ABC News, 5 Dec. 2021 The rationale needs to be both fact-based and address the emotional dynamics behind the decision. Jim Heininger, Forbes, 15 July 2022 The judge did not spell out rationale for rejecting Heard's other claims in Wednesday's order. CBS News, 13 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rationale.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of rationale

1657, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for rationale

Latin, neuter of rationalis

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Time Traveler for rationale

Time Traveler

The first known use of rationale was in 1657

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Dictionary Entries Near rationale



rational expectations

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Statistics for rationale

Last Updated

31 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Rationale.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rationale. Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for rationale


ra·​tio·​nale | \ ˌra-shə-ˈnal How to pronounce rationale (audio) \

Kids Definition of rationale

: a basic explanation or reason for something What is the rationale behind your decision?

More from Merriam-Webster on rationale

Nglish: Translation of rationale for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rationale for Arabic Speakers


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