rationale

noun
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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The word rationale appeared in the second half of the 17th century, just in time for the Age of Reason. It is based on the Latin ratio, which means "reason," and rationalis, which means "endowed with reason." At first, rationale meant "an explanation of controlling principles" ("a rationale of religious practices," for example), but soon it began to refer to the underlying reason for something (as in "the rationale for her behavior"). The latter meaning is now the most common use of the term. The English word ratio can also mean "underlying reason" (in fact, it had this meaning before rationale did), but in current use, that word more often refers to 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 Several states have enacted new voting restrictions, and others are debating them, as the GOP has seized on Trump's false claim of massive voter fraud in the 2020 election as a rationale for curtailing ballot access. Jonathan Lemire, Star Tribune, 13 July 2021 Several states have enacted new voting restrictions, and others are debating them, as the GOP has seized on Trump’s false claim of massive voter fraud in the 2020 election as a rationale for curtailing ballot access. Jonathan Lemire, chicagotribune.com, 13 July 2021 Colleges often cite federal funding as the rationale for their marijuana policies. Richard J. Chang, Forbes, 23 June 2021 The PERS Board has leaned heavily on those forecasts, using Callan’s higher forecast two years ago as the rationale to maintain its 7.2% assumption. oregonlive, 2 June 2021 On Wednesday, judges cited a 2012 ruling by the International Court of Justice, which tossed out a World War II-era case regarding Italian victims seeking reparations from Germany, using state immunity as the rationale. Andrew Jeong, WSJ, 21 Apr. 2021 Officials in other states cited this as a rationale for reopening. New York Times, 3 Apr. 2021 Much of the trial will only be accessible virtually, with both the judge and state citing the COVID-19 outbreak as rationale for dramatically limiting access. Joseph Simonson, Washington Examiner, 5 Mar. 2021 Parler has also argued in its new suit that the problematic content Amazon presented as a rationale for taking it off the web represented only a minuscule fraction of all posts and comments on Parler. Anchorage Daily News, 5 Mar. 2021

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.

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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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Last Updated

19 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rationale.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rationale. Accessed 23 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for rationale

rationale

noun

English Language Learners Definition of rationale

somewhat formal : the reason or explanation for something

rationale

noun
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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