Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To make rational.
  • transitive v. To interpret from a rational standpoint.
  • transitive v. To devise self-satisfying but incorrect reasons for (one's behavior): "Many shoppers still rationalize luxury purchases as investments” ( Janice Castro).
  • transitive v. Mathematics To remove radicals, such as from a denominator, without changing the value of (an expression) or roots of (an equation).
  • transitive v. Chiefly British To bring modern, efficient methods to (an industry, for example).
  • intransitive v. To think in a rational or rationalistic way.
  • intransitive v. To devise self-satisfying but incorrect reasons for one's behavior.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To make something rational or more rational.
  • v. To remove radicals, without changing the value of an expression or the roots of an equation.
  • v. To structure something along modern, efficient and systematic lines, or according to scientific principles.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To use, and rely on, reason in forming a theory, belief, etc., especially in matters of religion: to accord with the principles of rationalism.
  • transitive v. To make rational; also, to convert to rationalism.
  • transitive v. To interpret in the manner of a rationalist.
  • transitive v. To form a rational conception of.
  • transitive v. To render rational; to free from radical signs or quantities.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make conformable to reason; give rationality to; cause to be or to appear reasonable or intelligible.
  • To subject to the test of reason; explain or interpret by rational principles; treat in the manner of a rationalist; as, to rationalize religion or the Scriptures.
  • In algebra, to free from radical signs.
  • To think for one's self; employ the reason as a supreme test; argue or speculate upon the basis of rationality or rationalism; act as a rationalist.
  • Also spelled rationalise.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. think rationally; employ logic or reason
  • v. weed out unwanted or unnecessary things
  • v. defend, explain, clear away, or make excuses for by reasoning
  • v. remove irrational quantities from
  • v. structure and run according to rational or scientific principles in order to achieve desired results

Etymologies

rational +‎ -ize (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Tom's men were starving. The last battle had decimated his platoon's numbers and cut off all outside communication. Their rations had run out over a week ago. The only food they had been able to secure since then came from trapping and slaughtering birds from island's quickly dwindling owl population. The meat was sinewy and rancid, but they were so hungry that they ate every muscle and every organ--except for the eyeballs. Even starving men have their limits, it seemed to Tom. But he kept the eyes, preserving them as he could, in case it came to that. And now, the time had come. There were no more owls. His men were on the verge of death. He had to come up with a plan to stretch his gelatinous cache as far as possible.

    "I'll give each man two eyeballs a day," said Tom, trying to rationalize the situation.

    October 30, 2007