In the following description:

It makes little sense to estimate separate mean and variance for each pixel.

(used in data pre-processing)

In my knowledge, "little" is a negative word. So, can I substitute "make little sense" with "is not reasonable" while retaining the meaning of the expression?

  • They do not mean the same thing. Something can make little sense and still be reasonable.
    – user20792
    Dec 8, 2015 at 6:01
  • 2
    "Making sense" is subjective, as it must make sense (or not) to someone. It has to do with understanding. Reasonableness is an arguably objective property (something is either logically valid or it is not, regardless of whether anyone can understand it).
    – Era
    Dec 8, 2015 at 17:48

3 Answers 3


Especially in the field that you're asking about, these do not mean the same thing.

In any sort of computational processing, if you were to say that something is "not reasonable," the conclusion drawn is that what is being proposed is a very inefficient method. It likely is technically a correct method, but it is not reasonable for the use case.

For example, here is one approach for checking if a number is prime:

  1. x = 2
  2. Divide number by x
  3. If the remainder is 1, return false
  4. Increment x by 1 and go back to step 2
  5. If x gets to input - 1 and we haven't returned false yet, return true

This is technically a correct approach, however it is grossly inefficient and impractical if you are working with bigger numbers. A more efficient approach would be the implementing the Sieve of Eratosthenes, which I won't explain on here as this is a site about English :).

The method I outlined above DOES make sense, but it is not reasonable for working with bigger numbers. So if you were trying to brute force some sort of encryption that uses big prime numbers, you'd be waiting for thousands of years for your calculations to finish.

On the other hand, if I outlined this method for finding out if a number is prime or not:

  1. Flip a coin. If it is sunny out and the coin lands on its side, your number is prime! Otherwise, it is false.

Then you would be able to say that this method does not make sense.

Even in general, when not referring to computer science applications, these two phrases are not mutually inclusive.


It means the same thing (in certain contexts). "Make little sense" means "is not practical" or "there is no point in doing so". It simply implies that there is no use in doing whatever the context is about. You could substitute it with "is not reasonable" it the meaning of the sentence does not change doesn't change. Additionally, you could use "impractical" too.


It makes little sense to estimate separate mean and variance for each pixel.

The word little in the sentence has a negative meaning. It means not much, not enough, not sufficient, or not significant. It has been used to mean not as much sense as is required or expected to estimate..........

The word phrase "not reasonable" in the sense of "not fairly good" can be used instead of little, but I think the use of "not enough or not much" is better.

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