rationalize

verb
ra·​tio·​nal·​ize | \ ˈrash-nə-ˌlīz How to pronounce rationalize (audio) , ˈra-shə-nə-ˌlīz\
rationalized; rationalizing

Definition of rationalize

transitive verb

1 : to bring into accord with reason or cause something to seem reasonable: such as
a : to substitute a natural for a supernatural explanation of rationalize a myth
b : 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)

intransitive verb

: to provide plausible but untrue reasons for conduct

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Other Words from rationalize

rationalizable \ ˌrash-​nə-​ˈlī-​zə-​bəl How to pronounce rationalizable (audio) , ˌra-​shə-​nə-​ˈlī-​ \ adjective
rationalization \ ˌrash-​nə-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce rationalization (audio) , ˌra-​shə-​nə-​lə-​ \ noun
rationalizer \ ˈrash-​nə-​ˌlī-​zər How to pronounce rationalizer (audio) , 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Anyone can protect his post-White House reputation with an anonymous hit piece, anyone can rationalize staying in a cushy job. Peggy Noonan, WSJ, "Trump Insiders, Come Out of the Shadows," 27 Dec. 2018 Even the Nixon administration rationalized surveillance of domestic political opponents, including antiwar and civil rights leaders, by citing worries about potential covert Soviet subversion. Charlie Savage, New York Times, "Trump and His Lawyers Embrace a Vision of Vast Executive Power," 4 June 2018 There is no essay that attempts to make sense of the whole affair, to rationalize its disparate inclusions. Charles Desmarais, San Francisco Chronicle, "‘Way Bay’ at UC Berkeley strays way off path," 26 Jan. 2018 It is written to revise the memory of what was decided in order to rationalize what was then done. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "What Did Comey Tell President Trump about the Steele Dossier?," 15 Feb. 2018 That’s how a perpetrator rationalizes when he is caught. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Eliza Dushku Takes On CBS Over Sexual Harassment Comments, Gets All Her Power Back," 20 Dec. 2018 His writing sparked outrage at the company and across Silicon Valley for rationalizing the pay and opportunity gap at technology companies. Daisuke Wakabayashi And Nellie Bowles, New York Times, "Google Memo Author Sues, Claiming Bias Against White Conservative Men," 8 Jan. 2018 Falling trade barriers enabled multinational companies to integrate their supply chains and rationalize operations across borders, to minimize costs and maximize product offerings. Greg Ip, WSJ, "Consumer Beware: With Less Trade Comes Less Choice," 28 Nov. 2018 So don't judge your grief, or try to rationalize your way around it. Andrea Park, Allure, "James Van Der Beek Opened Up About Wife Kimberly Brook's 3 Miscarriages In a Heartfelt Instagram Post," 10 Sep. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of rationalize

1665, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Last Updated

18 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for rationalize

The first known use of rationalize was in 1665

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More Definitions for rationalize

rationalize

verb

English Language Learners Definition of rationalize

: to think about or describe something (such as bad behavior) in a way that explains it and makes it seem proper, more attractive, etc.
chiefly British : to find ways to make (something, such as an industry, a company, etc.) waste less time, effort, and money

rationalize

verb
ra·​tio·​nal·​ize | \ ˈra-shə-nə-ˌlīz How to pronounce rationalize (audio) \
rationalized; rationalizing

Kids Definition of rationalize

: to find an excuse for something that seems reasonable or believable He tried to rationalize his foolish purchase.

rationalize

verb
ra·​tio·​nal·​ize
variants: also British rationalise \ ˈrash-​nə-​ˌlīz, -​ən-​ᵊl-​ˌīz How to pronounce rationalise (audio) \
rationalized also British rationalised; rationalizing also British rationalising

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

Other Words from rationalize

rationalizer also British rationaliser \ -​ər How to pronounce rationaliser (audio) \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on rationalize

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rationalize

Spanish Central: Translation of rationalize

Nglish: Translation of rationalize for Spanish Speakers

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