ra·​tion | \ ˈra-shən How to pronounce ration (audio) , ˈrā- How to pronounce ration (audio) \

Definition of ration

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a food allowance for one day
b rations plural : food, provisions
2 : a share especially as determined by supply


rationed; rationing\ ˈra-​sh(ə-​)niŋ How to pronounce rationing (audio) , ˈrā-​ \

Definition of ration (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to supply with or put on rations
2a : to distribute as rations often used with out
b : to distribute equitably
c : to use sparingly

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Examples of ration in a Sentence

Noun The soldiers were given their rations for the day. The horse was fed its ration of oats. weekly sugar and butter rations Verb During the war, the government rationed gasoline. the region has had to ration water during times of drought
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The former inmates told CBS News the facility urged them to wash their hands more often but did not supply more soap in their weekly ration to do so. Tyler Kendall, CBS News, ""We're at war with no weapons": Coronavirus cases surge inside Chicago's Cook County Jail," 5 Apr. 2020 This means 100 million-plus people who are entitled to food rations under Indian law are not getting them. Scroll Staff, Quartz India, "India may be forgetting over 100 million people in its coronavirus relief measures," 16 Apr. 2020 After respirator masks, emergency food rations were one of the first things to sell out. Josh Centers, USA TODAY, "8 things preppers recommend to get you through the coronavirus crisis," 20 Mar. 2020 Many North Koreans live on rations dictated by the state and earn very little. Fox News, "The world's remaining communist countries, and how they're faring economically," 23 Feb. 2020 Other powers granted to him by the law -- to requisition materials, ration consumer goods and control consumer credit -- were allowed to lapse in 1953. 2. Sarah Babbage, Fortune, "Defense Production Act: What to know about the law Trump could use to order more ventilators," 26 Mar. 2020 Generators, gasoline, chainsaws, tarps, paramedic bags, first aid kits, emergency rations, blankets, towels, extra clothes, hygiene kits, toys and Pedialyte for his grandkids, and a storm shelter for eight adults, are his focus. al, "Some in Alabama were ready: “People say, ‘Well what are you prepping for?’”," 18 Mar. 2020 To heat their coffee and rations, the soldiers put a match to sticks of C-4 plastic explosives. BostonGlobe.com, "For Gerry Goolkasian of Newton, the Battle of the Bulge barely lasted a morning.," 6 Dec. 2019 Some can’t afford insulin or ration supplies because of costs, the bill’s supporters said. USA TODAY, "Leaning Tower of Dallas, John Glenn, blue lobster: News from around our 50 states," 20 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Food banks are experiencing unprecedented demand and some grocery stores are rationing meat during the coronavirus pandemic. Sophie Lewis, CBS News, "Farmers will have to euthanize millions of pigs as meat plants remain closed," 14 May 2020 Many hospitals and clinics rationed medical supplies, preparing for a surge of infected patients that largely failed to materialize locally. Laura Garcia, ExpressNews.com, "1 in 5 coronavirus patients in Bexar County work in health care," 9 May 2020 One of the biggest fears in the coronavirus pandemic is that a sudden and large increase in patients will overwhelm hospitals and force doctors to ration ventilators among patients unable to breathe. Guy Boulton, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Boosting production of ventilators is a race against time — and it won't be easy," 23 Mar. 2020 The influx of patients has swamped hospitals in the northern part of the country, forcing doctors to ration access to lifesaving equipment. al, "Alabama COVID-19 cases could double every day or two, says local expert," 17 Mar. 2020 Boots, the pharmacy, has had to resort to rationing hand sanitizer, the newspaper said. Bloomberg.com, "First Death Reported in U.S.; More Cases Likely: Virus Update," 13 May 2019 Following the lockdown announcement, bakeries were reportedly rationing bread as some clients ordered 20 (or more) baguettes each. Colleen De Bellefonds, SELF, "As an American Expat in Paris, Boulangeries Are My Source of Comfort Right Now," 28 Apr. 2020 My mom, dad and aunt were all smokers and of course cigarettes were rationed. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Stay-at-home will stay put, at least for now," 23 Apr. 2020 Yet India’s government has laid out criteria that effectively rations coronavirus tests, limiting them to the very sick or most at risk. Ari Altstedter, Fortune, "Why scientists are touting coronavirus ‘herd immunity’ for India when it didn’t work for the U.K.," 22 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ration.' 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 ration


circa 1711, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1834, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ration


French, from Latin ration-, ratio computation, reason

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Time Traveler for ration

Time Traveler

The first known use of ration was circa 1711

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Statistics for ration

Last Updated

17 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ration.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ration. Accessed 26 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for ration


How to pronounce ration (audio) How to pronounce ration (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of ration

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a particular amount of food that is given to one person or animal for one day
: food or supplies
: a particular amount of something (such as gasoline or food) that the government allows you to have when there is not enough of it



English Language Learners Definition of ration (Entry 2 of 2)

: to control the amount of (something, such as gasoline or food) that people are allowed to have especially when there is not enough of it


ra·​tion | \ ˈra-shən How to pronounce ration (audio) , ˈrā-shən \

Kids Definition of ration

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a food allowance for one day
2 rations plural : provision entry 1 sense 1
3 : the amount each person is allowed by an authority The government set a gas ration.


rationed; rationing

Kids Definition of ration (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to control the amount an individual can use The government rationed gas.
2 : to use sparingly Ration your water on the hike.


ra·​tion | \ ˈrash-ən How to pronounce ration (audio) , ˈrā-shən How to pronounce ration (audio) \

Medical Definition of ration

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a food allowance for one day
rationed; rationing\ ˈrash-​(ə-​)niŋ How to pronounce rationing (audio) , ˈrāsh-​ How to pronounce rationing (audio) \

Medical Definition of ration (Entry 2 of 2)

: to supply with or put on rations

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More from Merriam-Webster on ration

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ration

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ration

Spanish Central: Translation of ration

Nglish: Translation of ration for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ration for Arabic Speakers

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