ra·​tio·​nal·​i·​za·​tion | \ ˌrash-nə-lə-ˈzā-shən How to pronounce rationalization (audio) , ˌra-shə-nə-lə-\
plural rationalizations

Definition of rationalization

: the act, process, or result of rationalizing : a way of describing, interpreting, or explaining something (such as bad behavior) that makes it seem proper, more attractive, etc. They're masters of high-speed sophistry and self-serving rationalizations, and they threaten one another as if the power of threats lies mainly in how elegantly expressed they are …— Nitsuh Abebe But that's a convenient rationalization that removes from the rest of us the onus for doing the right thing even when the wrong thing is alluring and nobody would blame you for it.— Leonard Pitts, Jr. People rationalize what they shun or are incapable of dealing with; these superstitions and their rationalizations become ritual as they govern behavior.— Ralph Ellison Importantly, these perceptions of victimhood were automatic and effortless, not belabored rationalizations.— Kurt Gray and Chelsea Schein

First Known Use of rationalization

1846, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of rationalization was in 1846

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variants: also British rationalisation \ ˌrash-​nə-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən, -​ən-​ᵊl-​ə-​ How to pronounce rationalisation (audio) \

Medical Definition of rationalization

: the act, process, or result of rationalizing especially : the provision of plausible reasons to explain to oneself or others behavior for which one's real motives are different and unknown or unconscious

More from Merriam-Webster on rationalization

Nglish: Translation of rationalization for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rationalization for Arabic Speakers

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What made you want to look up rationalization? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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