quo·ta | \ˈkwō-tə \

Definition of quota 

1 : a proportional part or share especially : the share or proportion assigned to each in a division or to each member of a body

2 : the number or amount constituting a proportional share

3 : a fixed number or percentage of minority group members or women needed to meet the requirements of affirmative action

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Examples of quota in a Sentence

The agency imposes strict fishing quotas. The company has imposed quotas on hiring. He lost his driver's license because he exceeded the quota of traffic violations. The department set new sales quotas in January.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Though the end of March marks the halfway point for fiscal 2018, less than a quarter of the 45,000 quota set by the president have arrived in the U.S. The trend doesn’t look likely to change in April. Kate Morrissey, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Halfway through fiscal year, refugee arrivals well below 45,000 target," 23 Apr. 2018 Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week imposed production quotas on immigration judges to spur them to clear cases more quickly. Maria Sacchetti, chicagotribune.com, "Justice Department to halt legal program for detained immigrants," 11 Apr. 2018 In fact, the document places no commitments on member states, which was important to governments in Central Europe, which have rejected mandatory quotas for migrants. Steven Erlanger, New York Times, "Migration Deal in Europe Makes No Commitments. Victory Is Declared.," 29 June 2018 The United States also has quotas on sugar, meaning that only so much of it can enter before hefty tariffs kick in. Anchorage Daily News, "Analysis: There are ‘nuggets of truth’ to what Trump says about trade," 10 June 2018 The army had a strict quota for black nurses, and only 300 of them served in the entire Army Nurse Corps, which had 40,000 white nurses. Alexis Clark, Smithsonian, "The Army’s First Black Nurses Were Relegated to Caring for Nazi Prisoners of War," 15 May 2018 The constitution sets a quota for female representation, stating that no less than one-fourth of parliament members must be women. Philip Issa, Fox News, "Shiite cleric al-Sadr leads in Iraq's initial vote results," 14 May 2018 Last week, Rudd told lawmakers her office didn't have quotas for removing such immigrants. Doug Criss, CNN, "5 things for April 30: Migrant caravan, T-Mobile and Sprint, Michelle Wolf," 30 Apr. 2018 Refugees make an easier target since the president has discretion to set quotas and priorities for who comes to the US. Simon Montlake, The Christian Science Monitor, "US has cut inflow of refugees to a trickle, dousing hopes upstream," 25 Apr. 2018

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

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First Known Use of quota

1618, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for quota

Medieval Latin, from Latin quota pars how great a part

Medieval Latin, from Latin quota pars how great a part

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Statistics for quota

Last Updated

8 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for quota

The first known use of quota was in 1618

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More Definitions for quota



Financial Definition of quota

What It Is

Quota can refer to a measure that sets the limits, either minimum or maximum, on a particular activity.

How It Works

Quotas are usually set by government or by an organization of producers of a particular product.

For trade quotas, governments set the quota limiting the import of a particular product, restricting the access to the domestic market by an offshore producer, and giving the domestic producers the opportunity to improve their position in the market.  Such protectionist policies in industries including steel, autos, and many consumer electronics products, have protected domestic industry from international competition.

In production quotas, a government or a group of producers, limit the supply of a particular product in order to maintain a certain price level.  For example, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries sets a production quota for crude oil in order to "maintain" the price of crude oil in world markets.

Why It Matters

Quotas counteract natural market forces and trends and usually upset normal business cycles. For example, protecting domestic industry from international competition has kept it alive, but has not increased its competitiveness. In an increasingly global economic marketplace, quotas tend to weaken domestic industry. As for production quotas, while maintaining prices in the world markets may sound like a good idea for producers, it can have the effect of forcing consumers to find alternative products (e.g., the search for alternative energy in the case of oil) or worse (e.g., take up arms to fight for rights to natural resources).

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of quota

: an official limit on the number or amount of people or things that are allowed

: a specific amount or number that is expected to be achieved


quo·ta | \ˈkwō-tə \

Kids Definition of quota

1 : a limit on the number or amount of people or things that are allowed a quota on imported goods

2 : a share assigned to each member of a group Each colony received its quota of troops.

3 : a specific amount or number of things that is expected to be achieved She sold her quota of candy bars.

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quo·ta | \ˈkwō-tə \

Legal Definition of quota 

1 : a proportional part or share assigned to each in a body

2 : a specific amount that serves as a minimum or maximum a law against traffic ticket quotas

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Comments on quota

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