1550, "reasoning," later, "relation of one number to another" (1660s), then "fixed allowance of food" (1702, often rations, from French ration in this sense), from Latin rationem (nominative ratio) "reckoning, numbering, calculation; business affair, procedure," also "reason, reasoning, judgment, understanding," from rat-, past participle stem of reri "to reckon, calculate," also "think" (from PIE root *re- "to reason, count"). The military pronunciation (rhymes with fashion) took over from the preferred civilian pronunciation (rhymes with nation) during World War I.
"put (someone) on a fixed allowance," 1859, from ration (n.); sense of "apportion in fixed amounts" is from 1870. Related: Rationed; rationing.
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