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 reason (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 reason (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 For starters, because it’s there — a reason that has called many outdoor adventurers into the backcountry. Emily Mesner, Anchorage Daily News, "‘It felt like I was the first person to step on Mars’: Anchorage free divers plunge into icy Rabbit Lake," 21 Jan. 2021 Former President Jimmy Carter did not attend as well, but his reason was in light of his health. Stephanie Toone, ajc, "Trump is not first president to refuse attending an inauguration," 20 Jan. 2021 There are instances in which a citizen may well have reason to record a conversation with a law-enforcement officer, for example. New York Times, "Is It OK That My Sister Secretly Records Our Dad for Laughs?," 19 Jan. 2021 Many Republicans raised the soaring budget deficits as a reason to be cautious in passing further relief. Martin Crutsinger, Star Tribune, "Yellen pushes GOP senators on $1.9 trillion relief package," 19 Jan. 2021 But now, with Joe Biden becoming president, climate experts and government officials have a simple reason to hope for help in combating the problem. USA Today, "‘The science is real’: Coastal experts hope Biden will partner to combat sea level rise," 18 Jan. 2021 Senior Marcus Santos-Silva pointed out Tech’s zero trips to the line in the first half of the game against Baylor as a reason for the loss. Dallas News, "3 things that need to happen for Texas Tech to make a run in the NCAA Tournament: getting to the stripe is key for the Red Raiders’ success," 18 Jan. 2021 Sometimes the reason—this seems to have been the case with Miller and Breitbart—is exclusion from the popular clique in high school. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, "I Went to High School With Biden’s Homeland Security Team," 18 Jan. 2021 For customers who cited COVID-19 as a reason for their move, top reasons were concerns for personal and family health and well being (60%) and a desire to be closer to family (59%). Bethany Blankley, Washington Examiner, "More people moved from northern states to western and southern states, continuing trend: Study," 18 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb As Lee angrily tries to reason with Delores (and keep everyone else from coming in after her), James can’t hide his look of surprise. Justin Curto, Vulture, "Below Deck Recap: Off the Deep End," 4 Jan. 2021 But thankfully, enough reasonable, common-sense voting adults still exist to reason beyond superficial fundraising benchmarks established by this gawd-awful insatiable quest (and love) for money. Mike Masterson, Arkansas Online, "MASTERSON ONLINE: Money taints politics," 26 Dec. 2020 This remains a huge mystery, and the new research hasn’t spoken to it enough for scientists to reason a surefire next step. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "The Black Hole Information Paradox Is Just About Solved," 26 Nov. 2020 For all their philosophizing, Jason and Quentin and their father cannot reason their way out of evil and toward goodness. Casey Cep, The New Yorker, "William Faulkner’s Demons," 23 Nov. 2020 Huck tries to reason with Walter, who's holding a gun to Hope's head. Nick Romano,, "The Walking Dead: World Beyond," 16 Nov. 2020 To reason with these would be a waste of words, just as much as would be the attempt to persuade a madman out of his delusion. Dan Schlenoff, Scientific American, "50, 100 & 150 Years Ago: December 2020," 11 Nov. 2020 West African leaders tried to reason with him, but Jammeh wouldn’t listen. Anthony Faiola, Washington Post, "Trump’s claims of ‘stolen’ election have some recent precedents — in Gambia and Guyana," 6 Nov. 2020 And understanding different common errors in thinking is a great way to help children reason through their options in an environment that doesn’t punish them for thinking it through. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Adults Can't Seem to Understand This Math Problem for First Graders. Can You?," 12 Oct. 2020

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 "reckoning, calculation, explanation," 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

25 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Reason.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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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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Comments on reason

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