What does reason mean?

Definitions for reason
ˈri zənrea·son

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word reason.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. reason, groundnoun

    a rational motive for a belief or action

    "the reason that war was declared"; "the grounds for their declaration"

  2. reasonnoun

    an explanation of the cause of some phenomenon

    "the reason a steady state was never reached was that the back pressure built up too slowly"

  3. reason, understanding, intellectnoun

    the capacity for rational thought or inference or discrimination

    "we are told that man is endowed with reason and capable of distinguishing good from evil"

  4. rationality, reason, reasonablenessnoun

    the state of having good sense and sound judgment

    "his rationality may have been impaired"; "he had to rely less on reason than on rousing their emotions"

  5. cause, reason, groundsnoun

    a justification for something existing or happening

    "he had no cause to complain"; "they had good reason to rejoice"

  6. reasonverb

    a fact that logically justifies some premise or conclusion

    "there is reason to believe he is lying"

  7. reason, reason out, concludeverb

    decide by reasoning; draw or come to a conclusion

    "We reasoned that it was cheaper to rent than to buy a house"

  8. argue, reasonverb

    present reasons and arguments

  9. reasonverb

    think logically

    "The children must learn to reason"


  1. reasonnoun

    a cause:

  2. reasonnoun

    rational thinking (or the capacity for it; the cognitive faculties, collectively, of conception, judgment, deduction and intuition;

    Mankind should develop reason above all other virtues.

  3. reasonnoun

    something reasonable, in accordance with thought; justice.

  4. reasonnoun

    due exercise of the reasoning faculty

  5. reasonnoun

    ratio; proportion.

  6. reasonverb

    To exercise the rational faculty; to deduce inferences from premises; to perform the process of deduction or of induction; to ratiocinate; to reach conclusions by a systematic comparison of facts.

  7. reasonverb

    Hence: To carry on a process of deduction or of induction, in order to convince or to confute; to formulate and set forth propositions and the inferences from them; to argue.

  8. reasonverb

    To converse; to compare opinions.

  9. reasonverb

    To arrange and present the reasons for or against; to examine or discuss by arguments; to debate or discuss.

    I reasoned the matter with my friend.

  10. reasonverb

    To support with reasons, as a request.

  11. reasonverb

    To persuade by reasoning or argument.

    to reason one into a belief; to reason one out of his plan

  12. reasonverb

    To overcome or conquer by adducing reasons.

    to reason down a passion

  13. reasonverb

    To find by logical process; to explain or justify by reason or argument.

    to reason out the causes of the librations of the moon

  14. Etymology: From raisun (raison), from rationem, an accusative of ratio, from ratus, past participle of reor.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. REASONnoun

    Etymology: raison, Fr. ratio, Lat.

    Reason is the director of man’s will, discovering in action what is good; for the laws of well-doing are the dictates of right reason. Richard Hooker, b. i. s. 7.

    Though brutish that contest and foul,
    When reason hath to deal with force; yet so
    Most reason is that reason overcome. John Milton.

    Dim, as the borrow’d beams of moon and stars
    To lonely, weary, wand’ring travellers,
    Is reason to the soul: and as on high,
    Those rowling fires discover but the sky,
    Not light us here; so reason’s glimmering ray
    Was lent, not to assure our doubtful way,
    But guide us upward to a better day. Dryden.

    It would be well, if people would not lay so much weight on their own reason in matters of religion, as to think every thing impossible and absurd, which they cannot conceive: how often do we contradict the right rules of reason in the whole course of our lives? reason itself is true and just, but the reason of every particular man is weak and wavering, perpetually swayed and turn’d by his interests, his passions and his vices. Jonathan Swift, Miscellanies.

    Virtue and vice are not arbitrary things, but there is a natural and eternal reason for that goodness and virtue, and against vice and wickedness. John Tillotson.

    Spain is thin sown of people, partly by reason of the sterility of the soil, and partly their natives are exhausted by so many employments in such vast territories as they possess. Francis Bacon.

    The reason of the motion of the balance in a wheel watch, is by the motion of the next wheel. Matthew Hale.

    By reason of the sickness of a reverend prelate, I have been overruled to approach this place. Thomas Sprat.

    I have not observed equality of numbers in my verse; partly by reason of my haste, but more especially because I would not have my sense a slave to syllables. Dryden.

    Reason, in the English language, sometimes is taken for true and clear principles; sometimes for clear and fair deductions; sometimes for the cause, particularly the final cause: but here for a faculty in man. John Locke.

    I mask the business from the common eye
    For sundry weighty reasons. William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

    If it be natural, ought we not rather to conclude, that there is some ground and reason for these fears, and that nature hath not planted them in us to no purpose. John Tillotson.

    When she rates things, and moves from ground to ground,
    The name of reason she obtains by this;
    But when by reason she the truth hath found,
    And standeth fixt, she understanding is. Davies.

    Lovers and madmen have their seething brains,
    Such shaping fantasies that apprehend
    More than cool reason ever comprehends. William Shakespeare.

    When valour preys on reason,
    It eats the sword it fights with. William Shakespeare, Ant. and Cleop.

    I was promis’d on a time,
    To have reason for my rhyme:
    From that time unto this season,
    I receiv’d nor rhyme nor reason. Edmund Spenser.

    Are you in earnest?
    Ay, and resolv’d withal
    To do myself this reason and this right. William Shakespeare.

    The papists ought in reason to allow them all the excuses they make use of for themselves; such as an invincible ignorance, oral tradition and authority. Edward Stillingfleet.

    Let it drink deep in thy most vital part;
    Strike home, and do me reason in thy heart. Dryden.

    God brings good out of evil; and therefore it were but reason we should trust God to govern his own world, and wait till the change cometh, or the reason be discovered. Taylor.

    Conscience, not acting by law, is a boundless presumptuous thing; and, for any one by virtue thereof, to challenge himself a privilege of doing what he will, and of being unaccountable, is in all reason too much, either for man or angel. South.

    A severe reflection Montaigne has made on princes, that we ought not in reason to have any expectatious of favour from them. John Dryden, Aurengzebe. Dedication to.

    We have as great assurance that there is a God, as the nature of the thing to be proved is capable of, and as we could in reason expect to have. John Tillotson, Preface.

    When any thing is proved by as good arguments as a thing of that kind is capable of, we ought not in reason to doubt of its existence. John Tillotson.

    To render a reason of an effect or phenomenon, is to deduce it from something else more known than itself. Boyle.

    The most probable way of bringing France to reason, would be by the making an attempt upon the Spanish West Indies, and by that means to cut off all communication with this great source of riches. Addison.

  2. To Reasonverb

    To examine rationally. This is a French mode of speech.

    When they are clearly discovered, well digested, and well reasoned in every part, there is beauty in such a theory. Burn.

  3. To Reasonverb

    Etymology: raisonner, Fr.

    No man, in the strength of the first grace, can merit the second; for reason they do not, who think so; unless a beggar, by receiving one alms, can merit another. South.

    Ideas, as ranked under names, are those, that for the most part men reason of within themselves, and always those which they commune about with others. John Locke.

    Every man’s reasoning and knowledge is only about the ideas existing in his own mind; and our knowledge and reasoning about other things is only as they correspond with those our particular ideas. John Locke.

    Love is not to be reason’d down, or lost
    In high ambition. Addison.

    In the lonely grove,
    ’Twas there just and good he reason’d strong,
    Clear’d some great truth. Thomas Tickell.

    Reason with the fellow,
    Before you punish him, where he heard this. William Shakespeare.

    I reason’d with a Frenchman yesterday,
    Who told me in the narrow seas,
    There miscarried a vessel of our country. William Shakespeare.

    Stand still, that I may reason with you of all the righteous acts of the Lord. 1 Sam. xii. 7.

    Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, what reason ye in your hearts? Luke v. 22.

    They reason’d high
    Of providence, foreknowledge, will and fate. John Milton.

    Already by thy reasoning this I guess,
    Who art to lead thy offspring; and supposest,
    That bodies bright and greater should not serve
    The less not bright. John Milton.

    Down reason then, at least vain reasoning down. John Milton.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Reasonnoun

    a thought or a consideration offered in support of a determination or an opinion; a just ground for a conclusion or an action; that which is offered or accepted as an explanation; the efficient cause of an occurrence or a phenomenon; a motive for an action or a determination; proof, more or less decisive, for an opinion or a conclusion; principle; efficient cause; final cause; ground of argument

  2. Reasonnoun

    the faculty or capacity of the human mind by which it is distinguished from the intelligence of the inferior animals; the higher as distinguished from the lower cognitive faculties, sense, imagination, and memory, and in contrast to the feelings and desires. Reason comprises conception, judgment, reasoning, and the intuitional faculty. Specifically, it is the intuitional faculty, or the faculty of first truths, as distinguished from the understanding, which is called the discursive or ratiocinative faculty

  3. Reasonnoun

    due exercise of the reasoning faculty; accordance with, or that which is accordant with and ratified by, the mind rightly exercised; right intellectual judgment; clear and fair deductions from true principles; that which is dictated or supported by the common sense of mankind; right conduct; right; propriety; justice

  4. Reasonnoun

    ratio; proportion

  5. Reasonnoun

    to exercise the rational faculty; to deduce inferences from premises; to perform the process of deduction or of induction; to ratiocinate; to reach conclusions by a systematic comparison of facts

  6. Reasonnoun

    hence: To carry on a process of deduction or of induction, in order to convince or to confute; to formulate and set forth propositions and the inferences from them; to argue

  7. Reasonnoun

    to converse; to compare opinions

  8. Reasonverb

    to arrange and present the reasons for or against; to examine or discuss by arguments; to debate or discuss; as, I reasoned the matter with my friend

  9. Reasonverb

    to support with reasons, as a request

  10. Reasonverb

    to persuade by reasoning or argument; as, to reason one into a belief; to reason one out of his plan

  11. Reasonverb

    to overcome or conquer by adducing reasons; -- with down; as, to reason down a passion

  12. Reasonverb

    to find by logical processes; to explain or justify by reason or argument; -- usually with out; as, to reason out the causes of the librations of the moon

  13. Etymology: [Cf. F. raisonner. See Reason, n.]


  1. Reason

    Reason is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, applying logic, for establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, mathematics, and art, and is normally considered to be a definitive characteristic of human nature. The concept of reason is sometimes referred to as rationality and sometimes as discursive reason, in opposition to intuitive reason. Reason or "reasoning" is associated with thinking, cognition, and intellect. Reason, like habit or intuition, is one of the ways by which thinking comes from one idea to a related idea. For example, it is the means by which rational beings understand themselves to think about cause and effect, truth and falsehood, and what is good or bad. In contrast to reason as an abstract noun, a reason is a consideration which explains or justifies some event, phenomenon or behaviour. The ways in which human beings reason through argument are the subject of inquiries in the field of logic. Reason is closely identified with the ability to self-consciously change beliefs, attitudes, traditions, and institutions, and therefore with the capacity for freedom and self-determination.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Reason

    rē′zn, n. an idea which supports or justifies an act or belief: a motive: proof: excuse: cause: an explanation: the faculty of the mind by which man draws conclusions, and determines right and truth: the exercise of reason: just view of things: right conduct: propriety: justice: that which is conformable to reason: (logic) a premise placed after its conclusion.—v.i. to exercise the faculty of reason: to deduce inferences from premises: to argue: to debate: (B.) to converse.—v.t. to examine or discuss: to debate: to persuade by reasoning.—adj. Rea′sonable, endowed with reason: rational: acting according to reason: agreeable to reason: just: not excessive: moderate.—n. Rea′sonableness.—adv. Rea′sonably.—ns. Rea′soner; Rea′soning, act of reasoning: that which is offered in argument: course of argument.—adj. Rea′sonless.—n. Rea′son-piece, a wall plate.—By reason of, on account of: in consequence of; Principle of sufficient reason, the proposition that nothing happens without a sufficient reason why it should be as it is and not otherwise; Pure reason, reason absolutely independent of experience. [Fr. raison—L. ratio, rationisrēri, ratus, to think.]

The Nuttall Encyclopedia

  1. Reason

    in philosophy is more than mere understanding or reasoning power; it is the constitutive and regulative soul of the universe assumed to live and breathe in the inner life or soul of man, as that develops itself in the creations of human genius working in accord with and revealing the deep purpose of the Maker.

  2. Reason

    in German Vernunft, defined by Dr. Stirling "the faculty that unites and brings together, as against the understanding," in German Verstand, "the faculty that separates, and only in separation knows," and that is synthetic of the whole, whereof the latter is merely analytic of the parts, sundered from the whole, and without idea of the whole, the former being the faculty which construes the diversity of the universe into a unity or the one, whereas the latter dissolves the unity into diversity or the many.

The Roycroft Dictionary

  1. reason

    The arithmetic of the emotions.

Editors Contribution

  1. reason

    A truthful explanation.

    The reason for the change is simple as we all know what we agreed.

    Submitted by MaryC on April 6, 2020  

  2. reason

    The human quality of sane, intelligent, logical thought, feeling, knowing, understanding, expression, mind, soul, subconscious, conscience, consciousness and spirit.

    He has just reason and is so intelligent and informed.

    Submitted by MaryC on February 12, 2020  

Suggested Resources

  1. reason

    Song lyrics by reason -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by reason on the Lyrics.com website.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'reason' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #548

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'reason' in Written Corpus Frequency: #493

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'reason' in Nouns Frequency: #88

How to pronounce reason?

How to say reason in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of reason in Chaldean Numerology is: 5

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of reason in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Examples of reason in a Sentence

  1. Paul George:

    We played together. We took it to this team, we played aggressive. It's another game where we were up and for whatever reason, we couldn't finish.

  2. Mohamed Skillz Swaray:

    couples don't love at the same time and for the same reason

  3. James Comey:

    Here’s my reaction. And the reason I smile a little bit is anybody who’s actually done investigations knows that if you’ve been investigating something for almost a year and you don’t have a general sense of where it’s likely to end up, you should be fired because you’re incompetent, but after nine or ten months of investigating, it looked like on the current course and speed, this is going to end without charges. And so what will we do? Smart people, competent people plan ahead. If you’re going to charge you, you plan ahead. If you’re not going to charge, you plan ahead.

  4. Yvonne Maldonado:

    There's no reason why non-medical exemptions should exist.

  5. Pete Buttigieg:

    One of the things that every person should think about in the run-up to 2020, especially because there are so many people, is that it is not only the outcome, but it is the conduct of campaigns that will make an impact on political life in our country, the world is changing, but it is not changing on its own. So, if by bringing forward good ideas I can be part of chipping away at that, that is one more reason to give this a look.

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    (of especially persons) lacking sense or understanding or judgment
    • A. elusive
    • B. incumbent
    • C. omnifarious
    • D. soft-witted

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