rea·son | \ˈrē-zᵊn \

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 : 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

d : the thing that makes some fact intelligible : cause the reason for earthquakes the real reason why he wanted me to stay— Graham Greene

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, ˈrē-zᵊn-iŋ \

Definition of reason (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a obsolete : to take part in conversation, discussion, or argument

b : to talk with another so as to influence actions or opinions can't reason with them

2 : to use the faculty of reason so as to arrive at conclusions

transitive verb

1 archaic : to justify or support with reasons

2 : to persuade or influence by the use of reason

3 : to discover, formulate, or conclude by the use of reason a carefully reasoned analysis

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from reason


reasoner \ˈrēz-nər, 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


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.


He lost the ability to reason. He reasoned that both statements couldn't be true. She reasoned that something must be wrong.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

There are reasons some of baseball’s biggest sluggers say no to the Home Run Derby — risk of injury, messing up the swing, developing bad habits, superstition. Dom Amore,, "Wethersfield's Ryan Costello Slugging His Way Through The Minor Leagues," 14 July 2018 Immigrant advocates, however, say the new asylum rules arbitrarily remove domestic violence and gang violence from consideration during the asylum process, even though courts have determined that both can be reasons for receiving asylum. Pamela Ren Larson, azcentral, "Trump administration issues new asylum rules aimed at families arriving at border," 13 July 2018 National security and trade deficits are also reasons to keep the existing standards. Rob Jackson, Scientific American, "Relaxing Vehicle-Efficiency Standards Is a Truly Dangerous Idea," 12 July 2018 There are multiple reasons for the lackluster showing, including the question of whether Xiaomi should be judged on its principal smartphone business or its ambitions for expanding online services. Charlie Cambell/beijing, Time, "Lei Jun Wants to Be China’s Answer to Steve Jobs. But Trump’s Trade War Is Getting In His Way," 12 July 2018 There are a million reasons to find your one true love. Jodi Guglielmi,, "Are You The One? How MTV's Hit Love Competition Works," 12 July 2018 Few wondered if there were other reasons for Devonte's tears. Joe Heim And Julie Tate, Houston Chronicle, "As Hart children begged for help, system failed them," 12 July 2018 According to Leah Tuttleman, a certified designer at Re-Bath, those are the two main reasons homeowners ask for bathroom islands. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Could Bathroom Islands Be The Next Big Trend?," 11 July 2018 There are certainly reasons for HBO’s 30 million-plus subscribers to be concerned. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Is AT&T Going to Ruin HBO?," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The real miracle of reading comprehension, AI experts said, is in reading between the lines: connecting concepts, reasoning with ideas and understanding implied messages that aren’t specifically outlined in the text. Drew Harwell, The Seattle Times, "AI’s ability to read is hailed as milestone, but there’s still long way to go," 21 Jan. 2018 Goodman says PPLs can reason not only about physics and logistics, but also about how people communicate, coping with tricky forms of expression such as hyperbole, irony, and sarcasm. Matthew Hutson, Science | AAAS, "How researchers are teaching AI to learn like a child," 24 May 2018 The findings show babies still too young to speak can reason and make rational deductions. Bret Stetka, Scientific American, "Babies Think Logically Before They Can Talk," 15 Mar. 2018 Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die, Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred Why would a father ask his ever-expanding brood of what became 11 children to memorize a poem about war and slaughter? Kerry Kennedy, Time, "Kerry Kennedy: What My Father, RFK, Means Today," 31 May 2018 If that was done, Kelly reasoned, there would be no argument about equal protection — that is, the constitutional guarantee that all people be treated the same. Cary Spivak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin Supreme Court takes up challenge to legality of state's caps on medical malpractice payments," 19 Apr. 2018 Many in China still cling to the hope that he can be reasoned with. The Economist, "As its trade tussle with America heats up, China is on the back foot," 5 July 2018 Limbo, some medieval theologians reasoned, must have been where Jesus went in the three days between his death and resurrection to free the virtuous souls who had perished before him but not had the opportunity to be redeemed by his sacrifice. John Hooper, WSJ, "How a $30 Million Renaissance Masterpiece Was Found," 21 May 2018 At a time when the country seems to have forgotten how to have reasoned argument, these participants are displaying skills their coaches say are even better than adult politicians’. Christa Case Bryant, The Christian Science Monitor, "Need help winning an argument? Ask a Kansas high-schooler.," 11 Apr. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of reason


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


15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about reason

Statistics for reason

Last Updated

2 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for reason

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for reason



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 \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on reason

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


evasion of direct action or statement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!