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

Under the new deal, the United States can use the same dispute system to resolve labor complaints that NAFTA previously allowed only for commercial trade violations (such as exceeding trade quotas). Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, "Trump’s new trade deal is better for workers than NAFTA was," 30 Nov. 2018 Beijing has set electric-car quotas, and to be competitive GM has little choice but to make cars in China. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Trump’s GM Collision," 27 Nov. 2018 This week, two anonymous sources told Reuters that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering revising biofuel quotas downward after years of underperformance from the biofuel industry. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "EPA reconsidering biofuel targets after production goals are missed," 25 Nov. 2018 That decision turned management of the bears over to the states, which agreed on a plan that set hunting quotas based on the number of deaths each year to ensure the population stays above 600 animals. Fox News, "Protections restored for grizzly bears; hunts blocked," 25 Sep. 2018 Anglers also have to abide by catch quotas and other regulations. Ryan Sabalow, sacbee, "To protect salmon in the Columbia, will we have to kill more sea lions?," 6 July 2018 Biofuel quotas are meant to reduce the overall carbon footprint of transportation. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "Ohio man is latest to be sentenced for millions in biofuel credit fraud," 29 Aug. 2018 The quota portion of the class-action lawsuit was dismissed despite overwhelming evidence. Julia Felsenthal, Vogue, "Crime + Punishment," 22 Aug. 2018 To appease some trading partners—like Argentina, Brazil, and South Korea—and avoid more retaliation, the Trump administration decided to enact import quotas in lieu of tariffs. Diana Budds, Curbed, "How Trump’s tariffs are affecting the furniture industry," 7 Aug. 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

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Statistics for quota

Last Updated

3 Dec 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

History and Etymology for quota

Medieval Latin, from Latin quota pars how great a part

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More from Merriam-Webster on quota

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with quota

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for quota

Spanish Central: Translation of quota

Nglish: Translation of quota for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of quota for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about quota

Comments on quota

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


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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