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definition of the word reason

by the Wiktionnary

Rank of this word in the English language, from analyzing texts from Project Gutenberg.
John hour air #368: reason feel behind sn

Part or all of this page has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.

From Anglo-Norman resoun (Old French raison) < Latin rationem, an accusative of ratio < ratus, past participle of reor (think)



reason (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.
      • 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.
    4. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) proof, more or less decisive, for an opinion or a conclusion
  2. (uncountable) The cognitive faculties, collectively, of conception, judgment, reasoning, and intuition; (roughly) the ability to think.
    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 [] .
  3. (obsolete) Something reasonable, in accordance with thought; justice.
    I was promised, on a time, To have reason for my rhyme.Edmund Spenser
  4. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) (obsolete) due exercise of the reasoning faculty
  5. (mathematics, obsolete) ratio; proportion.

Definition from Wiktionary
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