I am writing an academic paper in economics, and I am trying replace is justifiable with some other expression, but I am missing the right word.

Current text: The objective of loss minimization is only justifiable when loss coincides with cost.

Replace with: The objective of loss minimization ... when loss coincides with cost.

I need a formal word or phrase, something like makes sense, but the latter is too informal.

(The example is partly made up, so please do not focus on whether cost and loss are related in a meaningful way.)

3 Answers 3


The difficulty I'm having with coming up with a formal, active verb is that I can't think of any intransitive verbs with the meaning you want, and the verb has to be intransitive to fit grammatically.

If you used a dummy "it" as subject, there are any number of transitive verbs that could work, including just "justify":

It justifies the objective of loss minimization when loss coincides with cost.

In this context, other verbs that could work might include "rationalize" and "excuse."

If you leave the sentence as-is, I think you may be stuck with a two-word solution like "is justifiable," although you could choose any number of synonyms for "justifiable." From what you've said in comments, a synonym that might work is defensible.


Worthwhile. Warranted

  • The objective of loss minimisation is only worthwhile when loss coincides with cost

'Worthwhile' means that the time involved is equal or greater to what one gets back from the activity and is similar to 'justified'.



  • The objective of loss minimisatiobn is only warranted when loss coincides with cost

Warranted means 'justified', 'reasonable'.


To make a more active sentence how about something like:

  • 'The goal of minimising loss warrants balancing (or offsetting) costs against losses'.

(It's a bit difficult to do a proper example because we don't have the real words).

Some other words for 'warrants' are:

  • validates or legitimises.
  • Thanks and +1! This is not quite what I am looking for, though. Worthwhile involves a comparison of pros and cons and might be somewhat subjective, while what I need is the mere existence of at least one pro (such that there could in principle exist a person who thinks this is worthwhile, but there might be a vast majority who thinks this is not worthwhile). I think that what is worthwhile is certainly justifiable but what is justifiable is not necessarily worthwhile. Hmm, this is a tough one, I find it hard to formulate my thoughts well... Feb 16, 2018 at 18:38
  • Thanks! What would help, and what often seems to be missing in this network, is more detail on 'what you want it for, why + the context'. It took a near-genius brainleap to come up with worthwhile - you'd get many more and better answers, I think, if you opened up about what you are trying to achieve, and also shared more context - more of the surrounding text of what you're trying to write. Also you could enhance your example. How you can you expect us to give a good word where you even say yourself 'don't look at cost and lost as the example is partly made up'. Why not share the real one?
    – Jelila
    Feb 16, 2018 at 23:21
  • How about 'warranted'?
    – Jelila
    Feb 17, 2018 at 5:30
  • Warranted is also quite fitting, perhaps the closest to what I have in mind. However, it is in passive, so the construction hardly changes from "is justifiable" to "is warranted", while I need it to change and become active. Feb 17, 2018 at 7:12
  • Well, why don't you use the present thr, Richard? That is always more dynamic in my view.
    – Jelila
    Feb 17, 2018 at 11:05

I can't see a reason to transform your sentence into the active, whereupon I actually see it as an active construction (perceived as the passive). Turning this into a somewhat-active voice could create a very difficult sentence, non-idiomatic and hard to read. Here "is" could be the copula in the sentence (like in: The base is situated on hill or "She i). "justifiable" is an adjective here that modifies the first clause and not an action verb, which is actually "coincides".

I, in fact, recommend you leave the sentence as is. I find it idiomatic and good English whereas a change to it may spoil that.

Notice that the passive would actually look like this:

  • The objective of loss minimization is only justifiable when cost is coincided with loss.
  • Thank you for your input! This gives me a broader context to evaluate things within and corrects some mistakes in my knowledge of English grammar. Actually, I really want to modify the sentence as it does not fit with the text around it. The sentence itself may be fine, but it definitely looks bad in the context. So I still need a solution. For me there is no question why I am doing it, but rather how to do it. Dec 13, 2017 at 10:28
  • @RichardHardy Wait for other people. Someone might have a different opinion. And since you mentioned context, please include it in your question. Dec 13, 2017 at 10:32
  • Thank you. I am afraid more context than given now could be distracting. I just need to replace "is justified" with a formal, active verb, that is all. Once I provide more context, there will be more comments and questions, and the discussion might take some irrelevant direction (talking from personal experience.) Dec 13, 2017 at 10:39
  • This is for your own interest to give as much information as possible for people to be able to help you. Providing context can help render the problem with more detail. Dec 13, 2017 at 10:48
  • I have edited the post to correct some of the things you noted above. If the edit is too radical (it makes some of your remarks irrelevant), I can revert it. Dec 13, 2017 at 14:59

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