Rational or Rationale?

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Rational" and "Rationale"?

"Rational" and "rationale" are easy to confuse because they look similar and both meanings relate to logic.
  • "Rational" means well reasoned or logical. For example:
    • That was a rational decision.
  • "Rationale" means logic, sense, or thinking. For example:
    • What was the rationale for your decision?
Click to hear how "rational" and "rationale" are pronounced:

rational or rationale?

More about "Rational" and "Rationale"

"Rational" and "rationale" are words that tend to appear in documents intended for a sophisticated audience, and they will expect you to use the right word.


The word "rational" is an adjective that describes something based on reason or logic. It is often seen in the phrases "rational thinking" and "rational decision."

Example sentences with "rational":
  • Insanity - a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world.
  • I've always believed in the power of rational thinking.


The word "rationale" is a noun that refers to the set of reasons behind a course of action or belief.

Example sentences with "rationale":
  • I think a legitimate rationale for war is the saving of human life.
  • In searching for a rationale to go to war, Bush settled on the notion of Saddam as an incarnation of evil.

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See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? Ms., Miss, or Mrs? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are adjectives? List of easily confused words

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