c. 1200, "intellectual faculty that adopts actions to ends," also "statement in an argument, statement of explanation or justification," from Anglo-French resoun, Old French raison "course; matter; subject; language, speech; thought, opinion," from Latin rationem (nominative ratio) "reckoning, understanding, motive, cause," from ratus, past participle of reri "to reckon, think," from PIE root *re- "to reason, count."
Reason is never a root, neither of act nor desire.
[Robinson Jeffers, "Meditation on Saviors"]
Meaning "sanity; degree of intelligence that distinguishes men from brutes" is recorded from late 13c. Sense of "grounds for action, motive, cause of an event" is from c. 1300. Middle English sense of "meaning, signification" (early 14c.) is in the phrase rhyme or reason. Phrase it stands to reason is from 1630s. Age of Reason "the Enlightenment" is first recorded 1794, as the title of Tom Paine's book.
early 14c., resunmen, "to question (someone)," also "to challenge," from Old French raisoner "speak, discuss; argue; address; speak to," from Late Latin rationare "to discourse," from ratio "reckoning, understanding, motive, cause," from ratus, past participle of reri "to reckon, think," from PIE root *re- "to reason, count." Intransitive sense of "to think in a logical manner" is from 1590s; transitive sense of "employ reasoning (with someone)" is from 1847. Related: Reasoned; reasoning.
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