1550, "reasoning," later, "relation of one number to another" (1666), then "fixed allowance of food" (1702, often rations,
from Fr. ration
), from L. rationem
) "reckoning, calculation, proportion" (see ratio
). The verb meaning "put (someone) on a fixed allowance" is recorded from 1859; sense of "apportion in fixed amounts" is from 1870. The military pronunciation (rhymes with fashion
) took over from the preferred civilian pronunciation (rhymes with nation
) during World War I. Rationing
is from 1918, from conditions in England during the war.