In the phrase "it stands to reason that...", is reason a verb or a noun?

If it is a verb, it is subordinate to the verb stands, which is being used metaphorically:

it is sound/stable for one to reason that...

On the other hand, used as a noun, I imagine that reason is a synecdoche for the principles of logic and rationality, or something like that, and that to stand to reason is to withstand any logical rebuke from this capital-R Reason.

I feel these mean two slightly different things, and in either case, they correspond to different parse trees, so which is more accurate to the original/proper usage?


It is an idiomatic expression and reason is a noun:

it stands to reason:

said when something is obvious or clear from the facts:

  • If 20 percent of the earth's population has 80 percent of its resources, then it stands to reason that 80 percent of the population has only 20 percent of the resources.

(Cambridge Dictionary)

Stand to:

it’s a reminder of an obsolete phrase “to stand to,” meaning (in the OED’s words) ‘To submit oneself to, abide by (a trial, award); to obey, accede to, be bound by (another’s judgement, decision, opinion, etc.).’ So originally something “stood to (obeyed) reason” in the same way as a person “stood to a judgment”; when the verbal phrase was eroded by time, the cliché remained behind.


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  • Please edit to note that the quote is actually from Language Hat, and only cited in the wo.o post you found it in ... – Will Crawford Mar 14 '18 at 2:43
  • The OP is expected to do as much of homework though. – Kris Mar 14 '18 at 8:30

Think of "It stands to reason" as "It holds up to logical scrutiny/rational consideration". It's being used as a noun.

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