Definition of ration in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈraʃ(ə)n/


1A fixed amount of a commodity officially allowed to each person during a time of shortage, as in wartime: 1947 saw the bread ration reduced
More example sentences
  • Food, previously supplied on ration, is scarce and expensive.
  • They came out dry and floury, like something one would expect from a wartime ration.
  • Sweets had gone on ration in 1939, along with sugar and most other food and clothing items.
allowance, allocation, quota, fixed amount, amount, quantity, share, portion, helping, allotment, measure, part, lot, proportion, percentage
rare apportionment, quantum, moiety
1.1 (rations) An amount of food supplied on a regular basis, especially to members of the armed forces during a war: British rations were highly prized by American soldiers refugees queued for their meagre rations
More example sentences
  • The authors find this ‘surprising’ given that fully 96 percent of the population receive regular food rations.
  • All government employees were supplied with food rations, which they kept in their living quarters.
  • Some purchased food and distributed it in regular rations.
supplies, provisions, food, food and drink, foodstuffs, eatables, edibles;
necessaries, necessities, stores;
Scottish  vivers
informal grub, eats
North American informal chuck
archaic victuals, vittles, viands, meat, commons
rare comestibles, provender, aliment, viaticum
1.2 (rations) Food; provisions: their emergency rations ran out
More example sentences
  • By contrast, the commissary officer has been responsible for the provision of rations alone.
  • The end pockets of my bag are packed full of biscuits - my staple rations for the far east.
  • First, the impact of the sanctions on the population tend to make the latter even more dependent on the government than before, mainly for provision of the basic rations needed for survival.
1.3A fixed amount of a particular thing: holidaymakers who like a generous ration of activity
More example sentences
  • Smith went through his ration of nine overs in one go for 2-29, his second success being with the assistance of a splendid low catch on the boundary by Dave Ellis.
  • They were fed on a simple ration of barley, sugar beet pulp, soya and minerals.
  • But just because I don't want to deal with the blood and tears doesn't mean I shouldn't deal with them, and last night I was caught off guard and absorbed a large ration of both.


[with object]
1Allow each person to have only a fixed amount of (a commodity): petrol was so strictly rationed that bikes were always in demand
More example sentences
  • In the case of the Working for Families package, the government is giving us back rationed amounts of our own money.
  • Brigid didn't understand it all, but because of some health problem Bob was strictly rationed with his daily input of liquid.
  • Petrol rationing during the war slowed this trend.
control, limit (to a fixed amount), restrict (the consumption of), conserve, budget
distribute, share out, measure out, divide out/up, apportion, give out, deal out, issue, allocate, allot, dispense, hand out, pass out, dole out, parcel out
rare admeasure
1.1 (ration someone to) Allow someone to have only (a fixed amount of a commodity): the population was rationed to four litres of water per person per day
More example sentences
  • He also remembers devastating droughts, when ‘we were rationed to 10 gallons a day.’
  • Our old landlord rationed us to two picture-hooks, and in the main room only.
  • The ends, along with tackles, rationed Auburn to 43 yards rushing on 36 carries in USC's 23-0 win.


come up (or be given) with the rations

military slang (Of a medal) be awarded automatically and without regard to merit: the British Military Cross didn’t come up with the rations
More example sentences
  • All of them were earned the hard way; none of them came up with the rations.


Early 18th century: from French, from Latin ratio(n-) 'reckoning, ratio'.

  • The words ratio [M16], ration, and rational (Late Middle English) all come from the Latin root, ratio ‘reckoning, reason’. The use of ration for ‘a fixed allowance’ became particularly associated with official control of scarce food supplies, or rationing, at the time of the First World War. Before that it was used in the armed forces for a soldier's daily share of the provisions.

Words that rhyme with ration

ashen, fashion, passion

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ra¦tion

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