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 With dozens of plants closed or cutting back operations, meat shortages have been forcing some grocery stores to ration grilling staples like ground beef and chicken breasts. Megan Molteni, Wired, "Covid-19 Makes the Case for More Meatpacking Robots," 25 May 2020 Before the pandemic, Osorio, 46, did not have to ration. Washington Post, "This year, April was... Death," 2 May 2020 The nightmare of doctors in overwhelmed Italian hospitals being forced to ration ventilators, choosing who would live and who would die, has been an ever-present fear since before the coronavirus hit the United States. Devi Shastri, USA TODAY, "Less-invasive breathing therapies could keep 'significant number' of patients off ventilators," 28 Apr. 2020 In the release Tuesday, the union said that workers had been given defective equipment and were forced to ration masks and gowns. NBC News, "Thousands of health care workers demand investigation of hospitals' coronavirus response," 28 Apr. 2020 The shortage is leaving some desperate doctors no choice but to ration ventilators, the LA Times reported. Wendy Grossman Kantor, PEOPLE.com, "Why Ventilators Are so Important in the Fight Against Coronavirus," 1 Apr. 2020 In Bergamo, pressure is finally starting to ease at intensive-care units that have been forced to ration treatment for weeks. Marcus Walker, WSJ, "Italy Hopeful That Coronavirus Pandemic Is Slowing Down," 31 Mar. 2020 Having to ration, reuse, or entirely go without proper protective equipment is a major concern. Fox News, "Coronavirus takes drastic toll on health care providers across the United States," 26 Mar. 2020 In the best circumstances, decisions to ration health care, especially urgently, should be cooperative and clearly explained to the public, bioethics experts said. Ginger Christ, cleveland, "Scarcity, health care rationing and coronavirus: The choices only get tougher," 18 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Demand for eggs is so high that some stores have resorted to rationing customers to two dozen per shopping trip. NBC News, "What's up with the skyrocketing grocery prices — and when will it all stop?," 15 May 2020 Nurses and doctors are reusing masks, avoiding patients and rationing gear. J. David Mcswane, ProPublica, "How Profit and Incompetence Delayed N95 Masks While People Died at the VA," 1 May 2020 Arthur Caplan, director of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University, adds that rationing ventilators isn’t all that different from rationing organs. Patti Greco, Health.com, "If Coronavirus Patients Outnumber Ventilators, Who Gets One? Here's How Doctors Decide," 10 Apr. 2020 Even though area hospitals have been rationing masks for weeks, hospitals are still in dire need of the equipment. Evan Casey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "After a Wauwatosa doctor asked for more protective masks, community members donated more than 400 protective items," 24 Mar. 2020 And in recent months, several Minnesotans have reported rationing insulin due to skyrocketing prices, with some experiencing fatal complications. Dana Ferguson, Twin Cities, "Insulin-assistance plan bogged down as self-imposed deadline looms," 17 Nov. 2019 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

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

31 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ration.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ration. Accessed 5 Jun. 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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