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 ration (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

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
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There are food-ration books and recipe books, some published by the government, to help people cook with those rations. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, 22 Apr. 2022 Such reductions lasted in the US and the U.K. for some years following the OPEC oil crisis of 1973; motorists in Britain were even issued with fuel ration books. Carlton Reid, Forbes, 13 Mar. 2022 The state still is trying to ration tests even though demand has dropped in recent days. Erin Alberty, The Salt Lake Tribune, 26 Jan. 2022 The government later announced a support package for citizens which included one-time grants to those in need and reviewing the ration card budget ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Nadeen Ebrahim, CNN, 23 Mar. 2022 China’s Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns have led to a shortage of a dye widely used in medical scans, prompting U.S. hospitals including the Mayo Clinic to ration supplies, postpone procedures or switch to less optimal imaging. Peter Loftus, WSJ, 17 May 2022 Hit by high prices and supply disruptions, Beasley said the UN has been forced to ration food supplies to millions of people around the world. Matt Egan, CNN, 13 May 2022 And labs that process most STD tests were forced to ration supplies to focus on the flood of incoming COVID-19 samples. Matthew Perrone, Star Tribune, 7 Apr. 2021 Many retail chains are continuing to ration supplies by placing strict limits on orders, while others are trying to find substitutes with little success. Annie Gasparro, WSJ, 12 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Meanwhile, Politico on Friday reported that the White House was preparing to ration COVID vaccines in light of the continued funding impasse. Erin Prater, Fortune, 13 May 2022 Initially, health officials were forced to ration Paxlovid. Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, 25 Apr. 2022 Low inventories and historically high prices for gas have fed fears for months that if the winter turns unseasonably cold, countries will have to roll out more help for struggling customers and businesses, and may even ration access to power. Julia Horowitz, CNN, 27 Jan. 2022 The White House may have to ration the next generation of vaccines, Politico reports. New York Times, 13 May 2022 University of Alabama at Birmingham officials have activated a plan to ration a key medical supply used in imaging and heart treatments in response to a global shortage caused by COVID-19 shutdowns in Shanghai, China. al, 7 May 2022 Health experts note that the circumstances forcing tough decisions about how to ration precious lifesaving resources is not a new one: what is new is having to make these tough decisions in the middle of a pandemic. Sasha Pezenik, ABC News, 30 Jan. 2022 Germany has already begun to prepare, recently initiating protocols to ration its energy. Tristan Bove, Fortune, 6 Apr. 2022 The title referred to the two days per week when, by order of the new government, Pakistani citizens abstained from eating meat to ration the cattle and goat supply. Washington Post, 1 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About ration

Time Traveler for ration

Time Traveler

The first known use of ration was circa 1711

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near ration




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for ration

Last Updated

19 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ration.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ration. Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for ration


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


transitive verb
rationed; rationing\ ˈrash-​(ə-​)niŋ How to pronounce ration (audio) , ˈrāsh-​ How to pronounce ration (audio) \

Medical Definition of ration (Entry 2 of 2)

: to supply with or put on rations

More from Merriam-Webster on ration

Nglish: Translation of ration for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ration for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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