rationalize

verb
ra·​tio·​nal·​ize | \ˈrash-nə-ˌlīz, 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, ˌra-​shə-​nə-​ˈlī-​ \ adjective
rationalization \ˌrash-​nə-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən, ˌra-​shə-​nə-​lə-​ \ noun
rationalizer \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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

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 The currency mix-up can sort of be rationalized by the fact that Malaysia and the Philippines have banknotes in similar shades of blue. Christopher Bagley, Condé Nast Traveler, "Sailing the South China Sea Is the Best Way to See Southeast Asia," 15 Nov. 2018 But the alternative to what the Trump team is doing now on Iran and North Korea has been to rationalize doing next to nothing—an increasingly familiar default. Daniel Henninger, WSJ, "It’s Trump’s Iran Deal Now," 9 May 2018 Unable to cope with losing to a team many had never even played against before, its opponents were reduced to whingeing and rationalizing. Sarah Lyall, New York Times, "With a Coach Who Pulls Teeth to Relax, Iceland Becomes a Contender," 14 June 2018 Herein lay the justification for Gilpin’s remarkable, if fanciful, theory that rationalized American exceptionalism. Johnforristerross, Longreads, "Taming the Great American Desert," 2 July 2018 When something awful happens, our instinct is to try to fix or rationalize. Jackie Pilossoph, chicagotribune.com, "Column: When and how to use the power of silence in a relationship," 25 Apr. 2018 These expenditures can be rationalized as representing an alternative GOTV (Get Out the Vote) technique. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "The Bill for the Ballot Battle Over California Gas Tax Might Reach $75 Million," 9 July 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

9 Dec 2018

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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.

: 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 \
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 \
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 \ 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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