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rational, n.1

Forms:  ME racional, 15 racyonall, 15– rational, 16 rationall. (Show Less)
Frequency (in current use): 
Origin: Formed within English, by conversion. Etymon: rational adj.
Etymology: < rational adj. Compare classical Latin ratiōnālis   (masculine) rational being, post-classical Latin rationalis   (feminine) rational conjunction (from 3rd cent. in grammarians), rationale   (neuter) faculty of reason (early 3rd cent. in Tertullian), that which is reasonable (5th cent.), rational number or quantity (12th cent. in a British source), uses as noun of classical Latin ratiōnālis  rational adj.   With sense 4   compare earlier rationale n.2

a. The rational part of the human mind; the power or faculty of reason. Also in pl. Obs.

a1398   J. Trevisa tr. Bartholomaeus Anglicus De Proprietatibus Rerum (BL Add.) f. 20v,   Þe soule..haþ þre maner vertues: on hatte racionalis, þerby he takeþ hede to þing þat is soþ & trewe... In þe racional is knowinge.
1640   H. Burton Replie to Relation of Conf. between Laude & Fisher 167   The sensitive and vegetative qualities of the soule of man being comprehended under the Rationalls, are subjected to the rule and command of Reason, and so doe participate in some kind of the very nature of the Rationall faculty.
1656   T. Stanley Hist. Philos. v. 114   In the desiderative the Appetite is govern'd by the Rationall, the Rationall by the Intellectuall.
1699   G. Farquhar Love & Bottle ii. ii. 19   Your Rational's revers'd, carrying your understandings in your Legs.
1794   J. Hindmarsh tr. E. Swedenborg New Dict. Corr. 126   Euphrates, in the Word, signifies the interiors of man's mind, which are called rationals.

a1398—1794(Hide quotations)


 b. That which is rational or reasonable.

1712   J. Brightland Gram. Eng. Tongue (ed. 2) iv. iv. 173   That which is properly juridicial, has its place either in Judgment, or before it; we divide the first into Rational and Legal: the Rational relates to the Fact, the Legal to the Sense of the Laws, Statutes, or written Authorities.
1898   G. Meredith Odes French Hist. 86   They not the less were mated, and proclaimed the rational their issue.
1905   Westm. Gaz. 30 Sept. 6/1   In other ways, too, coincidence is bound by the Rational; indeed, we can now see that it cannot exist without a rational basis.
1994   Appl. Linguistics 15 331   This, of course, leaves us to define reason, and to explain why Flew found it necessary to add a final circular clause to his definition (the rational is that which is opposed to the irrational).

1712—1994(Hide quotations)


c. A rational concept. Obs. rare.

1874   H. Sidgwick Methods of Ethics iii. xiii. 362   This absolute end,..can be nothing but Reason itself, or the Universe of Rationals.

1874—1874(Hide quotations)


2. Grammar. A conjunction that expresses a reason for a statement. Obs.

c1450   in D. Thomson Middle Eng. Grammatical Texts (1984) 7   How mony powers of coniunccion byn þer? V. Wech v? Sum be copulatyuis, sum byn disiunctiuis, sum byn explatyuis, sum casuels and sum racionels.
1585   tr. P. de La Ramée Lat. Gram. iii. iv. 106   Of rationals these onelye put before. Sic quas ob res,..quocirca.
1612   J. Brinsley Ludus Lit. viii. 97   Coniunctions, Copulatiues, Rationals, Aduersitiues,..Expletiues, and certaine others.
1677   F. Bampfield Seventh-day-sabbath 81   Sometimes it [sc. the word for] is a rational repeating of a Sentence, begun a little before; and it doth absolve and complete it, though by another manner of Speech; to mention no more: Still it is a Rational.

c1450—1677(Hide quotations)


 a. A person who takes a rationalist view, esp. in philosophy or religion; = rationalist n. 1, 2. Now rare.

?1541   R. Copland Guy de Chauliac's Questyonary Cyrurgyens sig. Gi,   That is to wyt the indycacyon yt is taken of the myghtynes of the dysease, which the Methodykes onely haue nat left (whiche is no merueyle) but also dyuers of the racyonalles, & Emperykes althoughe it be in dyuers maners.
?1570   T. Drant Two Serm. i. sig. Dvi,   Is it not excesse of learning that maketh Durand and the rest of their rationals thus to dispute: God made heauen and earth in the beginning, and not in the beginnings: therfore the Pope must be soueraigne?
1663   R. Boyle Some Considerations Usefulnesse Exper. Nat. Philos. ii. 416   Our unskilful Physitians, who brag much of Secrets they have learn't in private, and for the knowledg of these will be called Rationals in Physick.
1812   I. D'Israeli Calam. Auth. I. 173   He [sc. Henley] called himself ‘a Rationalist’—and on his dea[t]h-bed repeatedly cried out, ‘Let my notorious enemies know I die a Rational.’
1991   B. H. G. Wormald Francis Bacon (1993) xiv. 315   Comparing these men [of the Empirical School] to their disadvantage with the Rationals, he implies that it is the latter, the Rationals, who have preserved foundations in the light of common notions.

?1541—1991(Hide quotations)


b. A rational being; spec. a human being, as opposed to an animal. Chiefly in pl. Obs.

1601   T. Powell Passionate Poet sig. B3v,   So he repines the poorest rational Should dwell contented by his natiue thrall.
1606   W. Warner Continuance Albions Eng. xiv. lxxxii. 343   Beasts silent, that with Rationales was all a-mort suppose.
1664   B. Gerbier Counsel to Builders (new ed.) i. sig. f3v,   Love to Art..infers the party to be a true Rational.
1688   London Gaz. No. 2357/1   We must deprive our selves of our selves, as Rationals, and become more stupid then Brutes.
1755   E. Young Centaur 103   He is a Rational, dethroning Reason; and an Animal, transgressing Appetite.
1792   T. Paine Rights of Man: Pt. Second iii. 21   Kings succeed each other, not as rationals, but as animals.
1828   R. Craig in R. C. Craig Memorials (1862) vi. 129   Something which might exercise the mind as well as limbs of the rationals assembled there.
1883   A. Mahan Critical Hist. Philos. II. iii. 149   All Rationals must intuitively and necessarily Recognize the System as Absolute Error.

1601—1883(Hide quotations)


c. An advocate of rational dress (see rational adj. and adv. Special uses). Obs.

1896   Westm. Gaz. 28 Nov. 3/2   As a ‘rational’,..she thought that members should be free to adopt any costume that they liked.

1896—1896(Hide quotations)


4. = rationale n.2 1. Obs. rare.Two of the quotations below make reference to Guillelmus Durandus' Rationale Divinorum Officiorum, a late 13th-cent. treatise on Christian ritual.

1621   D. Calderwood Altar of Damascus vii. 186   They have no reason for these and other like superstitious vanities, but such as Durandus, or any other papist can give them, out of their reasonless Rationalls.
1658   Sir T. Browne Hydriotaphia: Urne-buriall iv. 55   To afford an account or rationall of old Rites.
1676   A. Marvell Mr. Smirke sig. D2,   I looked over the Canons, the Rational, the Ceremonial, the Rubrick, imagining the Exposing mention'd, must be some new part of our Ecclesiastical Discipline.
1692   B. Keach Rector Rectified & Corrected 15   Holy Water, Purification of Women, Easter, Pentecost, and many more such Ceremonies; for which the Papists do in like manner argue, as appears out of Durandus's Rationals, and other Interpreters of Rituals among the Papists.

1621—1692(Hide quotations)


 5. Math. A rational number or quantity.

1668   J. Wallis Let. 8 Feb. in H. Oldenburg Corr. (1967) IV. 159,   I have sent you herewith, my Solution of ye French Problem in Rationalls.
1685   J. Wallis Treat. Algebra xcix. 373   A Fraction (in Rationals) less than the proposed (Irrational) p.
1797   Trans. Royal Irish Acad. 6 Science 222   Four quadratics and a rational may be reduced at least with the same ease.
1880   Amer. Jrnl. Math. 3 371,   λ1 and μ1, as also λ2 and μ2, are commensurable, in the sense that one can be expressed rationally in terms of the other and of absolute rationals.
1937   J. H. Michell & M. H. Belz Elem. Math. Anal. II. xxi. 1051   The notion of partitions of the rationals forms the basis of Dedekind's treatment of real numbers.
1958   D. E. Littlewood Univ. Algebra (ed. 2) ix. 150   The set of integers K can be embedded in a field of quotients. This field of quotients is defined as the rationals.
1992   G. Ellis Rings & Fields v. 86   A real number α is obtainable from the rationals by taking square roots.

1668—1992(Hide quotations)


 6. In pl. Rational dress (see rational adj. and adv. Special uses); spec. bloomers or knickerbockers for women. Now hist.

1889   Pall Mall Gaz. 26 Dec. 6/2   Small shoes and latter-day ‘rationals’.
1895   Westm. Gaz. 2 Sept. 8/1   A mild plot amongst lady cyclists to persuade her ladyship..to adopt ‘rationals’.
1902   Chambers's Jrnl. Mar. 171/1   Not so very long ago a discussion took place in one of the daily papers as to whether ladies when cycling should assume the traditional skirt or the more advanced ‘rationals’.
1929   Encycl. Brit. VI. 920/2   To-day nearly 90% of club women and keen riders wear rationals for their more serious cycling.
1978   Times 4 Feb. 14/1   The ‘New Women’, dressed in their ‘rationals’ (a rig which included knickerbockers) glided past!

1889—1978(Hide quotations)


This entry has been updated (OED Third Edition, December 2008).