- to ascribe (one's acts, opinions, etc.) to causes that superficially seem reasonable and valid but that actually are unrelated to the true, possibly unconscious and often less creditable or agreeable causes.
- to remove unreasonable elements from.
- to make rational or conformable to reason.
- to treat or explain in a rational or rationalistic manner.
- Mathematics. to eliminate radicals from (an equation or expression): to rationalize the denominator of a fraction.
- Chiefly British. to reorganize and integrate (an industry).
Also especially British, ra·tion·al·ise.
Origin of rationalize
Although rationalize retains its principal 19th-century senses “to make conformable to reason” and “to treat in a rational manner,” 20th-century psychology has given it the now more common meaning “to ascribe (one's acts, opinions, etc.) to causes that seem reasonable but actually are unrelated to the true, possibly unconscious causes.” Although the possibility of ambiguity exists, the context will usually make clear which sense is intended.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for rationalization
No, this is a victory for corporate greed digging its claws into whatever façade of a rationalization it can get within its grasp.Hobby Lobby: Sex, Lies, and Craft Supplies
July 2, 2014
At the same time, there are those who ricochet between denial and rationalization.The Mayor McCrack Show
November 1, 2013
But that sort of rationalization may be better tackled by psychologists than the justices of the Supreme Court.Supreme Court Supports Monsanto in Patent Dispute
May 16, 2013
But the scapegoat is convenient—and the rationalization is complacent.The Catholic Church Is Insular and Intolerant
March 8, 2013
Today she has a much different perspective, calling that decision many years ago “all justification and rationalization.”Rapists, Beware: Detroit Prosecutor IDs 21 Attackers in ‘Rape Kit’ Investigation
August 28, 2012
But the Zen's question, even my rationalization of my reaction to it, had given me a chill.Zen
For no rationalization in the universe would allow him to define her as human.The Lani People
J. F. Bone
Rationalization and ratiocination merged in her mind very readily.Emma Goldman
Charles A. Madison
It is not the rationalization of Jewish dogma that he is interested in, nor the reconciliation of religion and philosophy.A History of Mediaeval Jewish Philosophy
Juristically this seems to be a rationalization of the Roman innominate contract.An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law
- to justify (one's actions, esp discreditable actions, or beliefs) with plausible reasons, esp after the event
- psychol to indulge, often unchallenged, in excuses for or explanations of (behaviour about which one feels uncomfortable or guilty)
- to apply logic or reason to (something)
- to eliminate unnecessary equipment, personnel, or processes from (a group of businesses, factory, etc), in order to make it more efficient
- (tr) maths to eliminate one or more radicals without changing the value of (an expression) or the roots of (an equation)
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
Word Origin and History for rationalization
Of the three works now on our table, the two which we have placed first have these laudable objects in view; an improvement on the former versions of the Psalms as compositions, and the rationalization, if we may so speak, of our Church psalmody. ["The British Critic," London, Jan.-June 1825]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- To make rational.
- To devise self-satisfying but false or inconsistent reasons for one's behavior, especially as an unconscious defense mechanism through which irrational acts or feelings are made to appear rational to oneself.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.