reason

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

Borrowing from Anglo-Norman raisun (Old French raison), from Latin ratiō, from ratus, past participle of reor (reckon).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

reason (countable and uncountable, plural reasons)

  1. A cause:
    1. That which causes something: an efficient cause, a proximate cause.
      The reason this tree fell is that it had rotted.
      • 1996, Daniel Clement Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life, page 198:
        There is a reason why so many should be symmetrical: The selective advantage in a symmetrical complex is enjoyed by all the subunits []
    2. A motive for an action or a determination.
      The reason I robbed the bank was that I needed the money.
      If you don't give me a reason to go with you, I won't.
      • 1806, Anonymous, Select Notes to Book XXI, in, Alexander Pope, translator, The Odyssey of Homer, volume 6 (London, F.J. du Roveray), page 37:
        This is the reason why he proposes to offer a libation, to atone for the abuse of the day by their diversions.
      • 1881, Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady, chapter 10:
        Ralph Touchett, for reasons best known to himself, had seen fit to say that Gilbert Osmond was not a good fellow []
    3. An excuse: a thought or a consideration offered in support of a determination or an opinion; that which is offered or accepted as an explanation.
  2. (uncountable) 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.
    • 1970, Hannah Arendt, On Violence ISBN 0156695006, page 62:
      And the specific distinction between man and beast is now, strictly speaking, no longer reason (the lumen naturale of the human animal) but science []
    • 2014 June 21, “Magician’s brain”, in The Economist, volume 411, number 8892:
      The [Isaac] Newton that emerges from the [unpublished] manuscripts is far from the popular image of a rational practitioner of cold and pure reason. The architect of modern science was himself not very modern. He was obsessed with alchemy.
  3. (obsolete) Something reasonable, in accordance with thought; justice.
    • 16th century Edmund Spenser, Lines on his Promised Pension
      I was promised, on a time, To have reason for my rhyme.
  4. (mathematics, obsolete) Ratio; proportion.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Barrow to this entry?)

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Verb[edit]

reason (third-person singular simple present reasons, present participle reasoning, simple past and past participle reasoned)

  1. (intransitive) To deduce or come to a conclusion by being rational
    • 1892, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Speckled Band
      "I had," said he, "come to an entirely erroneous conclusion which shows, my dear Watson, how dangerous it always is to reason from insufficient data. [] "
  2. (intransitive) To perform a process of deduction or of induction, in order to convince or to confute; to argue.
    • 1853, Solomon Northup, Twelve Years a Slave
      Still my spirit was not broken. I indulged the anticipation of escape, and that speedily. It was impossible, I reasoned, that men could be so unjust as to detain me as a slave, when the truth of my case was known
  3. (intransitive) To converse; to compare opinions.
    • 1901, Ralph Connor, The Man from Glengarry Chapter 9
      The talk was mainly between Aleck and Murdie, the others crowding eagerly about and putting in a word as they could. Murdie was reasoning good-humoredly, Aleck replying fiercely.
  4. (transitive) 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.
  5. (transitive, rare) To support with reasons, as a request.
  6. (transitive) To persuade by reasoning or argument.
    to reason one into a belief; to reason one out of his plan
    • 1816, Jane Austen, Emma Volume 2/Chapter 10
      That she was not immediately ready, Emma did suspect to arise from the state of her nerves; she had not yet possessed the instrument long enough to touch it without emotion; she must reason herself into the power of performance; and Emma could not but pity such feelings, whatever their origin, and could not but resolve never to expose them to her neighbour again.
  7. (transitive, with down) To overcome or conquer by adducing reasons.
    to reason down a passion
  8. (transitive, usually with out) To find by logical process; to explain or justify by reason or argument.
    to reason out the causes of the librations of the moon

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Further reading[edit]

Anagrams[edit]