What does rational mean?

Definitions for rational
ˈræʃ ə nl, ˈræʃ nlra·tio·nal

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word rational.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. rational number, rationaladjective

    an integer or a fraction

  2. rationaladjective

    consistent with or based on or using reason

    "rational behavior"; "a process of rational inference"; "rational thought"

  3. intellectual, rational, noeticadjective

    of or associated with or requiring the use of the mind

    "intellectual problems"; "the triumph of the rational over the animal side of man"

  4. rationaladjective

    capable of being expressed as a quotient of integers

    "rational numbers"

  5. rationaladjective

    having its source in or being guided by the intellect (as distinguished from experience or emotion)

    "a rational analysis"

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. RATIONALadjective

    Etymology: rationalis, Latin.

    What higher in her society thou find’st
    Attractive, humane, rational, love still. John Milton.

    When the conclusion is deduced from the unerring dictates of our faculties, we say the inference is rational. Joseph Glanvill.

    If your arguments be rational, offer them in as moving a manner as the nature of the subject will admit; but beware of letting the pathetick part swallow up the rational. Jonathan Swift.


  1. rational

    Rationality is the quality of being guided by or based on reasons. In this regard, a person acts rationally if they have a good reason for what they do or a belief is rational if it is based on strong evidence. This quality can apply to an ability, as in rational animal, to a psychological process, like reasoning, to mental states, such as beliefs and intentions, or to persons who possess these other forms of rationality. A thing that lacks rationality is either arational, if it is outside the domain of rational evaluation, or irrational, if it belongs to this domain but does not fulfill its standards. There are many discussions about the essential features shared by all forms of rationality. According to reason-responsiveness accounts, to be rational is to be responsive to reasons. For example, dark clouds are a reason for taking an umbrella, which is why it is rational for an agent to do so in response. An important rival to this approach are coherence-based accounts, which define rationality as internal coherence among the agent's mental states. Many rules of coherence have been suggested in this regard, for example, that one should not hold contradictory beliefs or that one should intend to do something if one believes that one should do it. Goal-based accounts characterize rationality in relation to goals, such as acquiring truth in the case of theoretical rationality. Internalists believe that rationality depends only on the person's mind. Externalists contend that external factors may also be relevant. Debates about the normativity of rationality concern the question of whether one should always be rational. A further discussion is whether rationality requires that all beliefs are reviewed from scratch rather than trusting pre-existing beliefs. Various types of rationality are discussed in the academic literature. The most influential distinction is between theoretical and practical rationality. Theoretical rationality concerns the rationality of beliefs. Rational beliefs are based on evidence that supports them. Practical rationality pertains primarily to actions. This includes certain mental states and events preceding actions, like intentions and decisions. In some cases, the two can conflict, as when practical rationality requires that one adopts an irrational belief. Another distinction is between ideal rationality, which demands that rational agents obey all the laws and implications of logic, and bounded rationality, which takes into account that this is not always possible since the computational power of the human mind is too limited. Most academic discussions focus on the rationality of individuals. This contrasts with social or collective rationality, which pertains to collectives and their group beliefs and decisions. Rationality is important for solving all kinds of problems in order to efficiently reach one's goal. It is relevant for and discussed in many disciplines. In ethics, one question is whether one can be rational without being moral at the same time. Psychology is interested in how psychological processes implement rationality. This also includes the study of failures to do so, as in the case of cognitive biases. Cognitive and behavioral sciences usually assume that people are rational to predict how they think and act. Logic studies the laws of correct arguments. These laws are highly relevant for the rationality of beliefs. A very influential conception of practical rationality is given in decision theory: it states that a decision is rational if the chosen option has the highest expected utility. Other relevant fields include game theory, Bayesianism, economics, and artificial intelligence.


  1. rational

    Rational, in general, refers to the quality of being based on logical reasoning or clear, sound judgement. It pertains to the ability to think, understand, and form judgements in a logical manner. In mathematics, a rational number is a number that can be expressed as a fraction or ratio of two integers, with the denominator not equal to zero.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Rationaladjective

    relating to the reason; not physical; mental

  2. Rationaladjective

    having reason, or the faculty of reasoning; endowed with reason or understanding; reasoning

  3. Rationaladjective

    agreeable to reason; not absurd, preposterous, extravagant, foolish, fanciful, or the like; wise; judicious; as, rational conduct; a rational man

  4. Rationaladjective

    expressing the type, structure, relations, and reactions of a compound; graphic; -- said of formulae. See under Formula

  5. Rationalnoun

    a rational being


  1. Rational

    Consistent, logical.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Rational

    rash′on-al, adj. pertaining to the reason: endowed with reason: agreeable to reason: sane: intelligent: judicious: (arith., alg.) noting a quantity which can be exactly expressed by numbers.—n. Rationabil′ity, the possession of reason.—adj. Rat′ionable, reasonable.—ns. Rationā′le, a rational account of anything, with reasons for its existence: a theoretical explanation or solution; Rationalisā′tion, subjection to rational principles.—v.t. Rat′ionalise, to interpret like a rationalist: to think for one's self.—v.i. to rely entirely or unduly on reason.—ns. Rat′ionalism, the religious system or doctrines of a rationalist; Rat′ionalist, one who believes himself guided in his opinions solely by reason, independently of authority, esp. in regard to religion—denying supernatural revelation.—adjs. Rationalist′ic, -al, pertaining to, or in accordance with, the principles of rationalism.—adv. Rationalist′ically, in a rationalistic manner.—n. Rational′ity, quality of being rational: the possession or due exercise of reason: reasonableness.—adv. Rat′ionally, reasonably.—n. Rat′ionalness.—n.pl. Rat′ionals, dress for women convenient for bicycling, &c.—breeches instead of skirts.

  2. Rational

    rash′on-al, n. the breast-plate of the Jewish high-priest: a pectoral worn by a bishop. [L. rationale, a mistaken rendering in the Vulgate of the Gr. logion, oracle.]

Editors Contribution

  1. rational

    The act and fact of being rational.

    The directors of the unity government were just, fair, transparent and had an accurate, perfect, simple and specific sense of justice.

    Submitted by MaryC on April 12, 2020  

  2. rational

    To have the ability to reason.

    She was so fair, just and rational, she has the remarkable capacity to think things through in seconds and see what works.

    Submitted by MaryC on February 12, 2020  

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'rational' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #3966

  2. Adjectives Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'rational' in Adjectives Frequency: #532

Anagrams for rational »

  1. rotalian

  2. notarial

How to pronounce rational?

How to say rational in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of rational in Chaldean Numerology is: 6

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of rational in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Examples of rational in a Sentence

  1. Lee Iacocca:

    In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something else.

  2. Joe Biden:

    I think there's a realization on the part of rational Republicans -- and I consider Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a rational Republican, Cornyn as well -- there's a recognition on their part they can't continue like this.

  3. Billy Madison:

    Principal Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  4. Will Sorrell:

    I assume the people that are making big investments make their decisions based on rational reasons, but they tell me that markets aren't always rational.

  5. Ralph Waldo Emerson:

    Be as beneficent as the sun or the sea, but if your rights as a rational being are trenched on, die on the first inch of your territory.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for rational

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"rational." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 22 Sep. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/rational>.

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    a decorative musical accompaniment (often improvised) added above a basic melody
    • A. descant
    • B. suffuse
    • C. gloat
    • D. flub

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