Definition of ration in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈraSH(ə)n/


1A fixed amount of a commodity officially allowed to each person during a time of shortage, as in wartime: 1918 saw the bread ration reduced on two occasions
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.
1.1 (usually rations) An amount of food supplied on a regular basis, especially to members of the armed forces during a war.
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.
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: their daily ration of fresh air
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] (usually be rationed)
1Allow each person to have only a fixed amount of (a particular commodity): shoes were rationed from 1943
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, restrict;
1.1 (ration someone to) Allow someone to have only (a fixed amount of a certain commodity): they were requested to ration themselves to one glass of wine each
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.


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

Syllabification: ra·tion

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