[ rash-uh-nl-ahyz, rash-nl-ahyz ]
/ ˈræʃ ə nlˌaɪz, ˈræʃ nlˌaɪz /
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See synonyms for: rationalize / rationalizing / rationalization on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), ra·tion·al·ized, ra·tion·al·iz·ing.
verb (used without object), ra·tion·al·ized, ra·tion·al·iz·ing.
to invent plausible explanations for acts, opinions, etc., that are actually based on other causes: He tried to prove that he was not at fault, but he was obviously rationalizing.
to employ reason; think in a rational or rationalistic manner.
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Also especially British, ra·tion·al·ise .

Origin of rationalize

First recorded in 1810–20; rational + -ize

usage note for 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.

OTHER WORDS FROM rationalize

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use rationalize in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for rationalize



/ (ˈræʃənəˌlaɪz) /

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)

Derived forms of rationalize

rationalization or rationalisation, nounrationalizer or rationaliser, noun
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