Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

Rational or Rationale?

The Quick Answer
What is the difference between rational and rationale?

Rational is an adjective that means well reasoned or logical.

The noun rationale means logic, sense, or thinking.

Rational and Rationale

Occasionally, there is confusion over the words rational and rationale.

Rational

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.

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

Rationale

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

Examples:
  • 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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