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[rash-uh-nl-iz-uh m] /ˈræʃ ə nlˌɪz əm/
the principle or habit of accepting reason as the supreme authority in matters of opinion, belief, or conduct.
  1. the doctrine that reason alone is a source of knowledge and is independent of experience.
  2. (in the philosophies of Descartes, Spinoza, etc.) the doctrine that all knowledge is expressible in self-evident propositions or their consequences.
Theology. the doctrine that human reason, unaided by divine revelation, is an adequate or the sole guide to all attainable religious truth.
Architecture. (often initial capital letter)
  1. a design movement principally of the mid-19th century that emphasized the development of modern ornament integrated with structure and the decorative use of materials and textures rather than as added adornment.
  2. the doctrines and practices of this movement.
    Compare functionalism (def 1).
Origin of rationalism
First recorded in 1790-1800; rational + -ism
Related forms
rationalist, noun
rationalistic, rationalistical, adjective
rationalistically, adverb
antirationalism, noun
antirationalist, noun, adjective
antirationalistic, adjective
nonrationalism, noun
nonrationalist, noun
nonrationalistic, adjective
nonrationalistical, adjective
nonrationalistically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for rationalistic
Historical Examples
  • It approached an outlook theological rather than rationalistic, yet he could not deny the conception, admission.

  • He made no attempt to account for her presence there on any rationalistic theory.

    The Tinted Venus F. Anstey
  • It follows that idealism—at least problematical idealism, is perfectly unavoidable in this rationalistic system.

  • Neither was he affected by the rationalistic teachings of the professors.

    Deaconesses in Europe Jane M. Bancroft
  • He was familiar with the trend of the rationalistic movement.

  • And how few fine minds are there to-day which are not rationalistic, unorthodox?

  • But advanced views about the Bible were not the main feature of the rationalistic movement.

  • Moreover, it is open to more than one rationalistic interpretation.

  • He was an apparition possible only in modern and rationalistic Protestant Germany.

    Egoists James Huneker
  • The bishop's architectural tastes, on the other hand, were rationalistic.

    Soul of a Bishop H. G. Wells
British Dictionary definitions for rationalistic


reliance on reason rather than intuition to justify one's beliefs or actions
  1. the doctrine that knowledge about reality can be obtained by reason alone without recourse to experience
  2. the doctrine that human knowledge can all be encompassed within a single, usually deductive, system
  3. the school of philosophy initiated by Descartes which held both the above doctrines
the belief that knowledge and truth are ascertained by rational thought and not by divine or supernatural revelation
Derived Forms
rationalist, noun
rationalistic, adjective
rationalistically, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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