Rational or Rationale?

by Craig Shrives
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.


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.

  • 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.

  • 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.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? 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? What are nouns? List of easily confused words