Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What does "terms" mean in the following sentence?

But I believe the theory of a creator of the universe can be explained in rational terms

share|improve this question
add comment

4 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

"Terms" is being used here in the sense of "expressions" or "propositions". The writer is declaring that his theory can be expressed in such a way that it can be tested by rational argument as distinct from the usual emotional shouting-match. This does not necessarily mean that the writer's theory is true, though from context the writer clearly believes that it is and expects that a dispassionate rational analysis of his argument will support him.

share|improve this answer
add comment

This 'terms' is from the same origin as 'terminology' - i.e. the words and definitions used to describe a topic.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Rational terms is an idiomatic phrase, and breaking down idioms into their constituent parts is rarely a productive exercise. That said, "terms" is more or less a synonym of "words", and "rational" can mean "not confusing, logical", so in this case you can actually arrive at something resembling the actual meaning by looking at the parts: in rational terms = using logical words (as opposed to emotional or politically-charged words or legalese or any similar obfuscation).

share|improve this answer
add comment

This means that the theory of a creator of the universe can be defined in such a way that everyone can agree upon. So 'rational terms' in this case would be those definitions that everyone can agree upon.

Now, whether that's true or not is completely subjective.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.