rationalize

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

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 research-based managerial principles to (something, such as an industry or its operations) for increased productivity and 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 rationalize (audio) , ˌra-​shə-​nə-​ˈlī-​ \ adjective
rationalizer \ ˈrash-​nə-​ˌlī-​zər How to pronounce rationalize (audio) , ˈra-​shə-​nə-​ˌlī-​ \ noun, plural rationalizers

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 Many people at airports this week thought long and hard about whether to go somewhere and found a way to rationalize it. Tamara Lush, USA TODAY, "'Mom's worth it': Why Americans are traveling despite health officials' advice," 24 Dec. 2020 Many people at airports this week thought long and hard about whether to go somewhere and found a way to rationalize it. Arkansas Online, "'Mom's worth it': U.S. holiday travel surges despite outbreak," 23 Dec. 2020 The assertion that Black bodies are different from all other bodies keeps company with generations of racist ideas that have infiltrated medicine, some of which were used to rationalize slavery. Krista Stevens, Longreads, "The Racist Healthcare System that Failed JaMarcus Crews," 22 Dec. 2020 The assertion that Black bodies are different from all other bodies keeps company with generations of racist ideas that have infiltrated medicine, some of which were used to rationalize slavery. Lizzie Presser, ProPublica, "For years, JaMarcus Crews tried to get a new kidney, but corporate healthcare stood in the way.," 15 Dec. 2020 Those transactions suggested that hyper-competitive delivery companies would move to rationalize their business models after spending years funneling generous venture funding into cutthroat pricing and customer acquisition. Daniel Tenreiro, National Review, "DoorDash Prepares for Blockbuster IPO," 30 Nov. 2020 Players often rationalize such toxicity as a normal part of gaming. Wired Opinion, Wired, "Toxicity in Gaming Is Dangerous. Here's How to Stand Up to It," 9 Dec. 2020 By the end of July, the Pentagon had created a European force posture plan to rationalize the shuffle. Abraham Mahshie, Washington Examiner, "Biden likely to scrap parts of Trump decision to pull troops from Germany," 12 Nov. 2020 The concept of race, used to rationalize slavery and segregation, has outlived its exploitative purposes in the United States. Gaiutra Bahadur, The New Republic, "Is America Trapped in a Caste System?," 25 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for rationalize

Time Traveler

The first known use of rationalize was in 1665

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Statistics for rationalize

Last Updated

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rationalize.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rationalize. Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for rationalize

rationalize

verb
How to pronounce rationalize (audio)

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 rationalize (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 rationalize (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on rationalize

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rationalize

Nglish: Translation of rationalize for Spanish Speakers

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