verb (used with object), ra·tion·al·ized, ra·tion·al·iz·ing.
- 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).
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.
- 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)
1767, “explain in a rational way, make conformable to reason,” from rational + -ize. In the psychological sense of “to give an explanation that conceals true motives” it dates from 1922. Related: Rationalized; rationalizing.
- 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.