Definition of reason in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈriːz(ə)n/


1A cause, explanation, or justification for an action or event: she asked him to return, but didn’t give a reason I resigned for personal reasons [with clause]: Giles is the reason that I am here
More example sentences
  • His main reason for quitting was personal, he said, as he wanted to spend more time with his wife and two children.
  • The reason for the present event, according to their explanation, is immodest behavior.
  • Their goal is simply to cause terror without a justified reason.
cause, grounds, ground, basis, rationale;
motive, motivation, purpose, point, aim, intention, objective, goal, occasion, impetus, inducement, incentive;
explanation, justification, case, argument, defence, apology, vindication, excuse, pretext, rationalization;
the whys and wherefores;
Latin apologia
1.1 [mass noun] Good or obvious cause to do something: we have reason to celebrate
More example sentences
  • York Volleyball Club have good reason to celebrate a memorable Millennium season both on and off the court.
  • But Lindsay already has reason to celebrate with Danielle's continuing progress.
  • Lucia Brennan has had much reason to celebrate her athletics achievements recently.
1.2 Logic A premise of an argument in support of a belief, especially a minor premise when given after the conclusion.
Example sentences
  • The premise clearly gives a good reason for the conclusion, but it is not completely conclusive.
  • Also, the relation between the reason and the conclusion, as we say, is just a logical one.
  • An argument is a form of reasoning whereby one gives a reason or reasons in support of some claim.
2 [mass noun] The power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgements logically: there is a close connection between reason and emotion
More example sentences
  • He believed that with his powers of reason and his faith he could master the world about him.
  • We must not believe that all opinion is ideology, that reason is only power, that there is no truth to prevail.
  • For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream.
rationality, logic, logical thought, scientific thinking, reasoning, thought, cognition;
the mind, intellect, intelligence, intellectuality;
Philosophy  nous
rare ratiocination
2.1What is right, practical, or possible; common sense: people are willing, within reason, to pay for schooling
More example sentences
  • The county council has taken all our views on board and promised it will do its best to accommodate the wishes of the village within reason.
  • You can take advantage of this by waiting until the last minute and - within reason - naming your price.
  • My parents realised I was genuinely interested in the acting and would let me watch anything, within reason.
good sense, good judgement, common sense, sense, judgement, understanding, wisdom, sagacity;
reasonableness, moderation, propriety;
practicality, practicability, advisability
2.2 (one's reason) One’s sanity: she is in danger of losing her reason
More example sentences
  • He ought to acquiesce, using at the same time the utmost powers of his reason to promote its repeal.
  • It addresses the audience by distracting its reason and arousing its emotion.
  • I think he was more afraid of losing his reason than he was of losing his life.
sanity, mind, mental faculties, mental health, soundness of mind;
senses, wits
informal marbles


[no object]
1Think, understand, and form judgements logically: humans do not reason entirely from facts
More example sentences
  • Dave's reasoning behind this identification is based on a bell recovered a few years ago.
  • We see no escape from the logic of the judge's reasoning and Mr Nicol could suggest none.
  • This time he may do it, reasoning that he has nothing to lose when his removal is the explicit aim of the war.
think rationally, think logically, think straight, use one's mind, use one's common sense, use one's head, use one's brain, think things through, cogitate;
informal put on one's thinking cap
rare cerebrate, ratiocinate, logicize
calculate, come to the conclusion, conclude, reckon, think, consider, be of the opinion, be of the view, judge, deduce, infer, surmise
North American informal figure
thinking, line of thought, train of thought, thought, thought process, logic, reason, rationality, analysis, interpretation, explanation, deduction, rationalization, argumentation;
reasons, rationale, arguments, premises, case;
supposition, hypothesis, thesis;
Philosophy  dialectics
rare cerebration, ratiocination, mentation
1.1 [with object] (reason something out) Find an answer to a problem by considering possible options: she was growing too sleepy to reason it out
More example sentences
  • I guess I always assumed as a child that if I was considerate of others and reasoned things out, people would do likewise to and for me.
  • It was one of those things you would like to do, but when you reasoned it out, you couldn't do it.
  • Analysts reason it out thus: Indian consumers, while being price- and value-conscious, are also brand conscious.
work out, find an answer/solution to, think through, come to a conclusion about, sort out, make sense of, get to the bottom of, puzzle out, solve
informal figure out
1.2 (reason with) Persuade (someone) with rational argument: I tried to reason with her, but without success
More example sentences
  • These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with evil in case he do otherwise.
  • Having to reason with a human and persuade her by the subterfuge of logic was exasperating.
  • They make decisions with rationality and reason with each other through dialogue.
talk round, bring round, win round, persuade, coax, prevail on, convince;
show someone the error of their ways, make someone see the light


1 Many people object to the construction the reason why ..., on the grounds that the subordinate clause should express a statement, using a that-clause, not imply a question with a why-clause: the reason (that) I decided not to phone rather than the reason why I decided not to phone.2 The construction the reason ... is because, as in the reason I didn’t phone is because my mother has been ill, is also disliked, on the grounds that either ‘because’ or ‘the reason’ is redundant; it is better to use the word that instead ( the reason I didn’t phone is that ...) or rephrase altogether ( I didn’t phone because ...).Nevertheless, both the above usages are well established and, although they may be inelegant, they are generally accepted in standard English.



beyond (all) reason

To a foolishly excessive degree: he indulged Andrew beyond all reason
More example sentences
  • So when in doubt they created money out of thin air (which is where money does come from) to a degree beyond reason.
  • I really don't believe he's going to try to kill her, he's just a kid with issues, but he has frightened my daughter beyond reason and that alone makes me want make him pay for his behavior in some way.
  • The most intractable disputes are sometimes beyond reason, rooted as they are in irrational hatreds, tribal loyalties or systematic brainwashing into murderous paranoia and hysteria.

by reason of

formal Because of: persons who, by reason of age, are in need of care
More example sentences
  • I am discriminated against, and so are my parents, by reason of age on almost a daily basis.
  • What does it mean to say you are increasing a sentence by reason of or in consideration of evidence that was not given at the trial?
  • You have not established it by reason of what I have just been putting to you, so do not exaggerate, please.
because of, on account of, as a result of, as a consequence of, owing to, due to, by virtue of, thanks to, through

for some reason

Used to convey that one does not know the reason for a particular situation, often with the implication that one finds it strange or surprising: for some reason he likes you
More example sentences
  • I was not recognized for some reason or the other so that there was no way of stopping the bill.
  • She had two attempts on the left side, which for some reason never gets the same effect.
  • It's a much easier joke to hear from a female friend than a male friend, for some reason.

listen to reason

Be persuaded to act sensibly: he’s too emotionally overwrought to listen to reason
More example sentences
  • I should have listened to reason… to the quiet voice of experience warning me of the dangers inherent in my planned course of action.
  • First came the good news: the Prime Minister had listened to reason and postponed the local elections for a month.
  • For the sake of Graham Rix, who is growing into this job after a difficult beginning, and his players, who have really warmed to their manager, you hope Romanov will now listen to reason.

theirs (or ours) not to reason why

Used to suggest that it is not someone’s (or one’s) place to question a situation: to be a Met Assistant you didn’t have to understand the weather, only to record—ours not to reason why
With allusion to Tennyson's ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ (1854)
More example sentences
  • In all likelihood they took on board the soldiers' dictum of ‘ours not to reason why’ and just got on with it.
  • Theirs not to make reply, theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die.
  • Her lot is not to reason why.

reason of state

another term for raison d'état.

(it) stands to reason

It is obvious or logical: it stands to reason that if you can eradicate the fear the nervousness will subside
More example sentences
  • It stands to reason, and is logical, that if one digs something out of the ground such as coal and burns it and turns it into a different form, well, then it cannot be renewable.
  • It stands to reason that affordable homes are not going to be built in Nelson.
  • It stands to reason therefore, that any problems that arise in the application of the idea of ‘free markets’ will cause problems in the application of the third way.



Pronunciation: /ˈriːz(ə)nə/
Example sentences
  • He is a careful reasoner and makes a pretty good case that the optimists have got it wrong about the present Hispanic influx into the USA.
  • It is the habit alone of reasoning which can make a reasoner.
  • The first one suggests that Pascalian reasoners are manipulative egoists whom God might take exception to, and they won't be rewarded after all.


Pronunciation: /ˈriːz(ə)nləs/
adjective ( archaic)
Example sentences
  • Without that step, it's a giant, reasonless pain that I'd rather not deal with.
  • And so all the best choices, those by which we approach God's nature and become more really who we should be, derive from and are made possible by his reasonless choice to love us.
  • Instead she stared at the reasonless key she held in her hand.


Middle English: from Old French reisun (noun), raisoner (verb), from a variant of Latin ratio(n-), from the verb reri 'consider'.

  • The ultimate source of reason is Latin reri ‘to consider’, which is also the root of ration and associated words. Theirs not to reason why comes from Lord Tennyson's poem ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ (1854). This describes a notorious incident in the Crimean War, when British cavalry unhesitatingly obeyed a suicidal order to ride straight at the Russian guns. See also rhyme

Words that rhyme with reason

season, treason

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: rea¦son

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