Definition of rationalize
1 : to bring into accord with reason or cause something to seem reasonable: such asa : to substitute a natural for a supernatural explanation of rationalize a mythb : to attribute (one's actions) to rational and creditable motives without analysis of true and especially unconscious motives rationalized his dislike of his brother; broadly : to create an excuse or more attractive explanation for rationalize the problem
2 : to free (a mathematical expression) from irrational parts rationalize a denominator
3 : to apply the principles of scientific management to (something, such as an industry or its operations) for a desired result (such as increased efficiency)
: to provide plausible but untrue reasons for conduct
rationalizableplay \ˌrash-nə-ˈlī-zə-bəl, ˌra-shə-nə-ˈlī-\ adjective
rationalizationplay \ˌrash-nə-lə-ˈzā-shən, ˌra-shə-nə-lə-\ noun
rationalizerplay \ˈrash-nə-ˌlī-zər, ˈra-shə-nə-ˌlī-\ noun
Examples of rationalize in a Sentence
She tried to rationalize her grandson's strange behavior by blaming it on the boy's father.
He couldn't rationalize buying such an expensive car.
She knows she shouldn't have done it—she's just trying to rationalize.
Management is thinking of ways to rationalize our system of production.
Recent Examples of rationalize from the Web
If that's too lofty a comparison to rationalize the losses of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, which James almost overcame in 2015 with a ridiculous performance, then how about Ron Harper and Toni Kukoc?
But this pervasive assumption rationalizing residential segregation in the United States ignores the long history of federal, state and local policies that generated the residential segregation found across the country today.
The entire operation would be rationalized and streamlined.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rationalize'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
First Known Use of rationalize
RATIONALIZE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of rationalize for English Language Learners
: to think about or describe something (such as bad behavior) in a way that explains it and makes it seem proper, more attractive, etc.
: to find ways to make (something, such as an industry, a company, etc.) waste less time, effort, and money
RATIONALIZE Defined for Kids
Definition of rationalize for Students
: to find an excuse for something that seems reasonable or believable He tried to rationalize his foolish purchase.
Medical Definition of rationalize
transitive verb: to bring into accord with reason or cause something to seem reasonable; especially : to attribute (one's actions) to rational and creditable motives without analysis of true and especially unconscious motives he tried to rationalize his cruel behavior
intransitive verb: to provide plausible but untrue reasons for conduct
Seen and Heard
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