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


The soldiers were given their rations for the day. The horse was fed its ration of oats. weekly sugar and butter rations


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

An 18-pound backpack for four people ($145.95) has a three-day supply of nut-free, non-GMO food rations and clean drinking water certified by the U.S. Coast Guard to stay fresh for five years. oregonlive.com, "6 emergency kits you can buy now to prepare for an earthquake," 10 July 2019 The women also cracked down on men selling their family’s aid cards—used to get weekly food rations, like rice, oil, salt, onion, and other necessities—for yaba, a mixture of methamphetamine and caffeine. Jennifer Chowdhury, Marie Claire, "Rohingya Women Aren't Just Refugees—They're Leaders," 9 July 2019 Touch, taste, and hear the history of World War II and D-Day at a hands-on activity featuring real GI equipment, uniforms, and rations. National Geographic, "France Family Journey: From Paris to Normandy and Beyond," 17 June 2019 The rations even applied to brands whose supplies were not affected by the shortage. Billy Perrigo, Time, "Brits Are Running Low on Crumpets and Beer as CO2 in Short Supply," 2 July 2018 Many countries in Africa and around the world ration electricity at times. Lauren M. Maclean, Washington Post, "Cape Town still has water — for now. This may take political solutions as well as technical fixes.," 23 Apr. 2018 When President Lincoln tapped him to command the Army of the Potomac in 1863, Hooker improved food rations and medical care and lengthened furloughs. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "5 things about ‘Fighting Joe’ Hooker," 19 Mar. 2018 The two main dishes are already built into flameless ration heaters similar to those used by the U.S. military. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "YouTube’s Army Ration Taste-Tester Has Reviewed Rations Across Three Centuries," 10 Apr. 2019 Members of the military are going AWOL due to scant rations. Fox News, "Lynne Patton responds to Omarosa audio tape," 15 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Johnson’s team is keeping him on a tight leash, rationing his public appearances in an attempt to avoid any gaffes that could derail his campaign. Washington Post, "Who is still standing in the race to be UK prime minister?," 19 June 2019 Alec Raeshawn Smith, an uninsured Type 1 diabetic, rationed his insulin supply due to cost, his mother said. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "As insulin costs soar, American diabetics drive to Canada," 16 June 2019 The financial strain is pushing millions of seriously ill Americans to ration their care, jeopardizing their health and even their lives. Noam N. Levey, latimes.com, "Soaring insurance deductibles and high drug prices hit sick Americans with a ‘double whammy’," 6 June 2019 Nutella lovers might need to ration their supplies of the chocolate and hazelnut spread as French workers bring the world's biggest Nutella factory to a near-standstill in a showdown over salary negotiations. CBS News, "World's biggest Nutella factory blocked by French workers," 4 June 2019 After figuring out that the town of New Ham has only forest land near it and food begins to be rationed, Grizz ends up starting a community garden in the town to help grow some more food. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Who is Grizz from "The Society" and What is Next for Him in Season 2?," 17 May 2019 Commerce Minister Betsy Díaz on Friday said the government would ration items including eggs, cooking oil, chicken, sausage and soap amid widespread shortages that have caused anxiety and panic buying. José De Córdoba, WSJ, "Cuba Plans to Ration Sales of Basic Food Items," 12 May 2019 Amid severe scarcities of basic goods, some hotels here have begun rationing toilet paper. Washington Post, "Venezuela’s solution to a collapsing economy and rampant violence: Woo tourists," 12 Jan. 2018 The students’ rooms were still heated by coal fires and cleaned by the German girls on the staff, and food was still rationed. Daphne Merkin, WSJ, "‘A Life of My Own’ Review: A Woman in a World of Men," 23 Aug. 2018

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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Statistics for ration

Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ration

The first known use of ration was circa 1711

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More Definitions for ration



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ration

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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characterized by aphorism

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