late 14c., recepcion, in astrology, "the effect of two planets on each other;" late 15c. in the general sense of "the act or fact of getting or receiving; the receiving of something in the manner of a receptacle;" from Old French reception and directly from Latin receptionem (nominative receptio) "a receiving," noun of action from past-participle stem of recipere "to hold, contain" (see receive).
The sense of "action of receiving (persons) or of being received in a formal or ceremonial manner" is from 1660s; earlier it meant act or fact of being received into a company, class, etc., or in a certain manner (1640s). The meaning "ceremonial gathering of persons to be received or greeted" is by 1865, from a sense in French. Radio (later television) sense of "the receiving of broadcast signals" is by 1907. Reception room, set aside for the reception of visitors, is by 1829.