Printable Version
Pronunciation: ræ-shi-ah-si-nay-shên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: 1. Strict logical reasoning. 2. A conclusion reached by strictly logical reasoning.

Notes: There are a dozen pronunciations dictionaries offer for this word. I like the pronunciation above since it is consistent with rational, a relative of today's word. The difference between today's Good Word and reasoning is that reasoning may be good or bad, depending on the facts and the logic used. Ratiocination is strictly logical reasoning. There can't be bad ratiocination. Ratiocination is the action noun for the verb ratiocinate. This verb has also produced a personal noun, ratiocinator, and two adjectives, ratiocinative and ratiocinatory, both of which sport adverbs.

In Play: Believe it or not, we have those among us who live strictly by sterling logic unaffected by emotion: "Ray's neighbor's dog anywhere on Ray's property was the only thing that could interrupt this man's cool ratiocination and release his emotions." Such people rarely go into politics: "The pundits who discuss US politics seldom refer to ratiocination."

Word History: This word comes from Latin ratiocinatio(n) "calm reasoning", based on the past participle of ratiocinare "to reckon, calculate". This verb is based on ratio "reckoning, calculation" + -cinari, probably related to conari "to try". Latin ratio "calculation" is based on ratus, the past participle of reri "to reckon, consider". Reri is a direct inheritance from PIE ar-/re- "to fit together". This PIE word also reached Latin without metathesis as armus "shoulder" and ar(t)s "art", both of which were borrowed into Middle English from Old French, as arm and art. English inherited the same PIE word directly from its Germanic ancestors as read from Old English rædan "to advise". It arrived in Modern German as Rat "counsel". (It doesn't take much ratiocination to see how deep our gratitude to Chris Stewart of South Africa runs. He has been making excellent suggestions like today's Good Word now for years.)

Dr. Goodword,

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