Background: Speech of individuals with non-fluent, including Broca’s, aphasia is often characterized as “agrammatic” because their output mostly consists of nouns and, to a lesser extent, verbs and lacks function words, like articles and prepositions, and correct morphological endings. Among the earliest accounts of agrammatic output in the early 1900s was the “economy of effort” idea whereby agrammatic output is construed as a way of coping with increases in the cost of language production. This idea resurfaced in the 1980s, but in general, the field of language research has largely focused on accounts of agrammatism that postulated core deficits in syntactic knowledge. Aims: We here revisit the economy of effort hypothesis in light of increasing emphasis in cognitive science on rational and efficient behavior. Main contribution: The critical idea is as follows: there is a cost per unit of linguistic output, and this cost is greater for patients with non-fluent aphasia. For a rational agent, this increase leads to shorter messages. Critically, the informative parts of the message should be preserved and the redundant ones (like the function words and inflectional markers) should be omitted. Although economy of effort is unlikely to provide a unifying account of agrammatic output in all patients—the relevant population is too heterogeneous and the empirical landscape too complex for any single-factor explanation—we argue that the idea of agrammatic output as a rational behavior was dismissed prematurely and appears to provide a plausible explanation for a large subset of the reported cases of expressive aphasia. Conclusions: The rational account of expressive agrammatism should be evaluated more carefully and systematically. On the basic research side, pursuing this hypothesis may reveal how the human mind and brain optimize communicative efficiency in the presence of production difficulties. And on the applied side, this construal of expressive agrammatism emphasizes the strengths of some patients to flexibly adapt utterances in order to communicate in spite of grammatical difficulties; and focusing on these strengths may be more effective than trying to “fix” their grammar.