- Rationalize is to attempt to justify something or to make excuses for bad behavior or an unpleasant outcome.
When you steal from your friends but justify it based on the theory that they are spoiled and won't notice the money is gone, this is an example of a situation where you rationalize your behavior.
transitive verbrationalized, rationalizing
- to make rational; make conform to reason
- to explain or interpret on rational grounds
- Chiefly Brit. to apply modern methods of efficiency to (an industry, agriculture, etc.)
- Math. to remove the radical signs from (an expression) without changing the value
- Psychol. to devise superficially rational, or plausible, explanations or excuses for (one's acts, beliefs, desires, etc.), usually without being aware that these are not the real motives
- to think in a rational or rationalistic manner
- to rationalize one's acts, beliefs, etc.
verbra·tion·al·ized, ra·tion·al·iz·ing, ra·tion·al·iz·es
- To explain rationally: “Philosophy &ellipsis; is essentially the endeavor of the human mind to rationalize the universe” (Francis E. Abbot).
- a. To explain or justify (one's behavior) with incorrect reasons or excuses, often without conscious awareness: rationalized his poor academic performance by claiming the teacher was incompetent.b. To dismiss or minimize the significance of (something) by means of an explanation or excuse: “He could not rationalize the loss of some thirty thousand American lives in an unsuccessful war” (Robert Dallek).
- a. To make (a business or process, for example) more efficient, as by reducing costs or introducing modern methods.b. To terminate the employment of (workers) in an effort to improve efficiency.
- Mathematics To remove radicals, such as from a denominator, without changing the value of (an expression) or roots of (an equation).
- To think in a rational or rationalistic way.
- To rationalize one's behavior.
(third-person singular simple present rationalizes, present participle rationalizing, simple past and past participle rationalized)
- To make something rational or more rational.
- To justify an immoral act, or illogical behaviour. “The process of thought by which one justifies a discreditable act, and by which one offers to oneself and the world a better motive for one's action than the true motive”
- (mathematics) To remove radicals, without changing the value of an expression or the roots of an equation.
- To structure something along modern, efficient and systematic lines, or according to scientific principles.