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Rational and Rationale

Commonly Confused Words


The adjective rational means having or exercising the ability to reason.

The noun rationale refers to an explanation or basic reason.


  • "No rational argument will have a rational effect on a man who does not want to adopt a rational attitude." (Karl Popper)

  • The senator challenged the government's rationale for the financial bailout.

(a) What is the mayor's ____ for trying to sell three of the city's public hospitals?

(b) "It is not to be forgotten that what we call _____ grounds for our beliefs are often extremely irrational attempts to justify our instincts." (Thomas Huxley)

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