rea·​son | \ ˈrē-zᵊn How to pronounce reason (audio) \

Definition of reason

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a statement offered in explanation or justification gave reasons that were quite satisfactory
b : a rational ground or motive a good reason to act soon
c : the thing that makes some fact intelligible : cause the reason for earthquakes the real reason why he wanted me to stay— Graham Greene
d : a sufficient ground of explanation or of logical defense especially : something (such as a principle or law) that supports a conclusion or explains a fact the reasons behind her client's action
2a(1) : the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways : intelligence
(2) : proper exercise of the mind
(3) : sanity
b : the sum of the intellectual powers
3 archaic : treatment that affords satisfaction
in reason within reason
: within reasonable limits
with reason
: with good cause


reasoned; reasoning\ ˈrēz-​niŋ How to pronounce reasoning (audio) , ˈrē-​zᵊn-​iŋ \

Definition of reason (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to use the faculty of reason so as to arrive at conclusions
2a : to talk with another so as to influence actions or opinions can't reason with them
b obsolete : to take part in conversation, discussion, or argument

transitive verb

1 : to discover, formulate, or conclude by the use of reason a carefully reasoned analysis
2 : to persuade or influence by the use of reason
3 archaic : to justify or support with reasons

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Other Words from reason


reasoner \ ˈrēz-​nər How to pronounce reasoner (audio) , ˈrē-​zᵊn-​ər \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for reason


think, cogitate, reflect, reason, speculate, deliberate mean to use one's powers of conception, judgment, or inference. think is general and may apply to any mental activity, but used alone often suggests attainment of clear ideas or conclusions. teaches students how to think cogitate implies deep or intent thinking. cogitated on the mysteries of nature reflect suggests unhurried consideration of something recalled to the mind. reflecting on fifty years of married life reason stresses consecutive logical thinking. able to reason brilliantly in debate speculate implies reasoning about things theoretical or problematic. speculated on the fate of the lost explorers deliberate suggests slow or careful reasoning before forming an opinion or reaching a conclusion or decision. the jury deliberated for five hours

Examples of reason in a Sentence

Noun I gave a reason for my absence. Is there a reason for your strange behavior? There is a reason why they don't want to come. I can't give you the report for the simple reason that it isn't yet finished. She explained her reasons for deciding to change jobs. He wanted to know the reason for their decision. Give me one good reason why I should believe you. For obvious reasons, we can't do that yet. For reasons of space, some of the charts and graphs have been omitted from the article. She resigned for personal reasons. Verb He lost the ability to reason. He reasoned that both statements couldn't be true. She reasoned that something must be wrong.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There’s nothing to suggest that anything nefarious is going on, so there’s no reason you should be concerned about downloading and giving it a try. Ken Colburn, azcentral, "The Brave web browser is taking on Google Chrome: Is it safe?," 17 Feb. 2020 There is modest evidence of cost savings with privatized prisons, a principal reason that governments rely on them. Barry Latzer, National Review, "Democrats Prefer ‘Reforming’ the Criminal-Justice System to Punishing Criminals," 17 Feb. 2020 Instead, medical personnel continue to use a paper questionnaire that relies on answers from patients — patients who may have reasons to hide or exaggerate symptoms, or who may be too shaken to answer questions accurately. Dave Philipps And,, "Brain injuries are common in battle. The military has no reliable test for them.," 16 Feb. 2020 Changing over to daylight saving time — a major annoyance for many people — may be on its way out as lawmakers cite public health as a prime reason to ditch the twice-yearly clock-resetting ritual. NBC News, "Changing clocks is bad for your health, but which time to choose?," 16 Feb. 2020 For this reason real estate has long been a fragmented, local market. The Economist, "Tearing down the house Technology is poised to upend America’s property market," 15 Feb. 2020 Whatever the reason, the move is a smart one, according to experts. Erik Sherman, Fortune, "Tesla raises capital two weeks after Elon Musk said it wasn’t needed," 14 Feb. 2020 The goalie is senior Joey Cormier, the reason Trenton reached the previous two Division 2 state championship games. Mick Mccabe, Detroit Free Press, "Trenton's Joey Cormier is small, but he's the biggest reason for this hockey renaissance," 14 Feb. 2020 For all those reasons and more, her travel bags are always carefully packed. Kaitlin Menza, Condé Nast Traveler, "How I Travel: Designer Clare Vivier Doesn't Go Anywhere Without Her Fanny Pack," 14 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Harbaugh, it was reasoned, just didn't want to criticize an underperforming unit after a home win over a top-15 team. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football playing best football as behemoth Ohio State awaits," 26 Nov. 2019 Zaid knows that the people who push conspiracy theories usually can't be reasoned with or are either bad faith actors with no regard for the truth. Oliver Darcy, CNN, "'A little disinformation goes a long way': Inside the whistleblower lawyer's fight against attempts to smear him and his client," 18 Oct. 2019 Our time is running out, but that only makes your slow, methodical reasoning more exciting. Sarah Todd, Quartzy, "Guess the world’s best city for vegan-friendly dining! No, try again," 17 Oct. 2019 State lawmakers reasoned that if conventional vehicle owners were forced to pay more at the pump, the fees would make sure electric and hybrid vehicle owners paid more, too. Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland, "Ohio’s new $100 fee for hybrids and $200 fee for electric vehicles go into effect next week," 27 Dec. 2019 Try to reason with someone who is irrational, as becoming angry will only make matters worse. Magi Helena, oregonlive, "Horoscope for Dec. 14, 2019: Pisces, don’t let little things bug you; Virgo, put free time to good use," 14 Dec. 2019 Paul Volcker’s death last week marks the passing of an era, one of bipartisan sanity and reasoned restraint in the making of public policy. Edward Lotterman, Twin Cities, "Real World Economics: Paul Volcker — the right man for his times," 15 Dec. 2019 His exact meaning is difficult to ascertain, as is Philip’s reasoning for supporting Attalus’s very public insult of his current heir. National Geographic, "Alexander the Great's warrior mom wielded unprecedented power," 3 Dec. 2019 The call, Bolles reasoned, would not have shown up on his phone bill., "The story that haunted Don Bolles isn't the story most people think they know," 3 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reason.' 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 reason


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 2b

History and Etymology for reason


Middle English resoun, from Anglo-French raisun, from Latin ration-, ratio reason, computation, from reri to calculate, think; probably akin to Goth rathjo account, explanation

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Time Traveler for reason

Time Traveler

The first known use of reason was in the 13th century

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Statistics for reason

Last Updated

20 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Reason.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for reason


How to pronounce reason (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of reason

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a statement or fact that explains why something is the way it is, why someone does, thinks, or says something, or why someone behaves a certain way
: a fact, condition, or situation that makes it proper or appropriate to do something, feel something, etc.
: the power of the mind to think and understand in a logical way



English Language Learners Definition of reason (Entry 2 of 2)

: to think in a logical way
: to form (a conclusion or judgment) by thinking logically


rea·​son | \ ˈrē-zᵊn How to pronounce reason (audio) \

Kids Definition of reason

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a statement given to explain a belief or an act My parents gave a reason for my absence.
2 : a fact that makes something right or fair to do I have reasons for what I did.
3 : cause entry 1 sense 1 The child wanted to know the reason for rain.
4 : the power to think and understand in a logical way
5 : a fair and sensible way of thinking about something He won't listen to reason.


reasoned; reasoning

Kids Definition of reason (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to think in a logical way
2 : to talk with another in a sensible way so as to influence his or her actions or opinions “It's a fear you can't be … reasoned out of.”— Kate DiCamillo, Because of Winn-Dixie
3 : to state or ask logically How, I reasoned, could such a thing happen?



Legal Definition of reason

1 : an underlying ground, justification, purpose, motive, or inducement required to provide reasons for the termination in writing
2a : the faculty of comprehending, inferring, or distinguishing especially in a fair and orderly way
b : the proper and sane exercise of the mind

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