mis·​al·​lo·​ca·​tion | \ ˌmis-ˌa-lə-ˈkā-shən How to pronounce misallocation (audio) \
plural misallocations

Definition of misallocation

: the act or an instance of misallocating something (such as money or resources) : poor or improper allocation misallocation of tax dollars And there are many who would say that any interference with a free market system … inevitably results in misallocations of resources just because planners cannot be omniscient.— R. Weiss et al.

Examples of misallocation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Under-representation on the Census can lead to the misallocation of federal resources and a weak understanding of states’ needs, as the population tally plays a major role in deciding on political issues and funding nationwide. Anna Purna Kambhampaty, Time, "At Census Time, Asian Americans Again Confront the Question of Who 'Counts' as Asian. Here's How the Answer Got So Complicated," 12 Mar. 2020 State-by-state patchwork solutions impede these goals because asymptomatic carriers continue to travel between states, and because competition for medical supplies among states leads to the misallocation of resources. Jeannie Suk Gersen, The New Yorker, "Who’s in Charge of the Response to the Coronavirus?," 19 Apr. 2020 Decades of capital misallocation and misuse have put China Inc. in a fix. Washington Post, "The One Bargaining Chip China Won’t Surrender," 24 Sep. 2019 Similarly, India’s current drought isn’t happening so much because of an absolute shortage of water, as its misallocation and mispricing. David Fickling | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "How India’s Water Ends Up Everywhere But India," 8 July 2019 The figures represent more than just a disastrous misallocation of need and want, given that 10 percent of people in the world are chronically undernourished. David Segal, New York Times, "The World Wastes Tons of Food. A Grocery ‘Happy Hour’ Is One Answer.," 8 Sep. 2019 Inaccurate counts paint a distorted picture of the makeup of our communities and result in a misallocation of resources vital to families. Rebecca Tippett, Vox, "The citizenship question is blocked for now. But demographers are still worried about the census.," 27 June 2019 Escalating debt will bring predictable consequences, which include crushing interest payments that crowd out other spending and misallocation of capital, which saps productivity. Steve H. Hanke And Stephen J.k. Walters, WSJ, "Lying Prices Keep America Hooked on Spending," 7 Jan. 2019 The misallocation of resources during the booms requires a prolonged and miserable process of reallocation during and after a recession. Joseph C. Sternberg, WSJ, "Why Central Bankers Missed the Crisis," 16 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'misallocation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of misallocation

1916, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about misallocation

Time Traveler for misallocation

Time Traveler

The first known use of misallocation was in 1916

See more words from the same year

Statistics for misallocation

Last Updated

15 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Misallocation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misallocation. Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

Comments on misallocation

What made you want to look up misallocation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!