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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Did You Know?

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 With business’s everywhere now comfortable with remote-work arrangements and virtual meetings, climate impacts provide a ready rationale to delay a return to the skies. Brentan Alexander, Forbes, "U.S. Airlines Net-Zero Pledge Is Good For Climate And Great For Business," 8 Apr. 2021 Chatterjee, who led the commission in 2017 and again from late 2018 until last November, offered a similar rationale for reversing his position on climate. Matthew Daly, ajc, "In a first, US pipeline agency weighs climate change impacts," 18 Mar. 2021 Chatterjee, who led the commission in 2017 and again from late 2018 until last November, offered a similar rationale for reversing his position on climate. Matthew Daly, Star Tribune, "In a first, US pipeline agency weighs climate change impacts," 18 Mar. 2021 Abernathy’s decisions to mask up last summer and to articulate a rationale for other doubters to do the same qualify him as part of his community’s science defense system. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Scientific American, "How to Debunk Misinformation about COVID, Vaccines and Masks," 18 Mar. 2021 The bar declined to provide a rationale for the sum. Harriet Ryan, Los Angeles Times, "Vegas parties, celebrities and boozy lunches: How legal titan Tom Girardi seduced the State Bar," 6 Mar. 2021 However, the oil majors add to the equation deep pockets, a high risk tolerance and a new strategic rationale to do deals. Rochelle Toplensky, WSJ, "Big Oil Faces Off Against Clean-Energy Giants," 2 Mar. 2021 In the Abbott Laboratories case, attorneys for the company never gave a rationale for their peremptory challenge. NBC News, "Jurors can be rejected for being gay. The Equality Act could change that.," 25 Feb. 2021 Some African-American Democrats believe that Black Americans will rally behind whichever Black woman Mr. Biden nominates and suspect Mr. Clyburn is looking for a rationale to elevate his home state and burnish his legacy. New York Times, "How Democrats Are Already Maneuvering to Shape Biden’s First Supreme Court Pick," 21 Feb. 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

26 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rationale.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rationale. Accessed 7 May. 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?

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Comments on rationale

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