Word of the Day : February 6, 2019


noun rat-ee-oh-suh-NAY-shun

What It Means

1 : the process of exact thinking : reasoning

2 : a reasoned train of thought


"It is beginning to look like television may soon kill not only the theater and the movies but radio, books, magazines, newspapers, and finally articulate speech and all the processes of ratiocination." — Aldous Huxley, letter, 14 Feb. 1949

"Ratiocination is a trained, disciplined procedure of arriving at truth—a use of reason and perspicacity so precise it's almost supernatural." — Virginia Heffernan, Wired, June 2018

Did You Know?

Edgar Allan Poe is said to have called the 1841 story "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" his first "tale of ratiocination." Many today agree with his assessment and consider that Poe classic to be literature's first detective story. Poe didn't actually use ratiocination in "Rue Morgue," but the term does appear three times in its 1842 sequel, "The Mystery of Marie Roget." In "Marie Roget," the author proved his reasoning ability (ratiocination traces to ratio, Latin for "reason" or "computation"). The second tale was based on an actual murder, and as the case unfolded after the publication of Poe's work, it became clear that his fictional detective had done an amazing job of reasoning through the crime.

Name That Synonym

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