ra·​tio·​nal·​ism ˈrash-nə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce rationalism (audio)
: reliance on reason as the basis for establishment of religious truth
: a theory that reason is in itself a source of knowledge superior to and independent of sense perceptions
: a view that reason and experience rather than the nonrational are the fundamental criteria in the solution of problems
ˈrash-nə-list How to pronounce rationalism (audio)
rationalist adjective
or rationalistic
ˌrash-nə-ˈli-tik How to pronounce rationalism (audio)
ˌrash-nə-ˈli-sti-k(ə-)lē How to pronounce rationalism (audio)

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Lib will watch the girl for eight-hour shifts, alternating with a nun—rationalism and faith, dual modes of attempting to understand what exactly is going on. Chloe Schama, Vogue, 14 Nov. 2022 Black Dogs is a novel of ideas pitting rationalism against spiritualism and encompassing the Holocaust and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Adam Begley, The Atlantic, 9 Sep. 2022 Theological modernism led liberal Christian theologians to create an alternative path between the rigid orthodoxies of Christian churches and the rationalism of atheists and others. Jason Oliver Evans, The Conversation, 14 Apr. 2022 This medieval or Gothic aesthetic could make the Romantics, in turn, hostile to the airless rationalism and classicism of the Enlightenment. Jeffrey Collins, WSJ, 18 Mar. 2022 Meanwhile, the tribes grow to appreciate the Galaxy Team’s technological rationalism. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, 17 Feb. 2022 Fox writes: Today, most of us view scientific rationalism and spiritualist belief as mutually exclusive. Neal Ascherson, The New York Review of Books, 22 July 2021 China has held an internal debate between economic rationalism and economic nationalism for over 40 years, with nationalism gaining under President Xi Jinping. Frank Lavin, Forbes, 10 Sep. 2021 His orthodox Christian rationalism has inspired innumerable other modern writers, including T. S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis, Étienne Gilson, Buckley, and Malcolm Muggeridge. M. D. Aeschliman, National Review, 8 Aug. 2021 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1732, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of rationalism was circa 1732

Dictionary Entries Near rationalism

Cite this Entry

“Rationalism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rationalism. Accessed 10 Dec. 2022.

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