[rash-uhn, rey-shuhn]


a fixed allowance of provisions or food, especially for soldiers or sailors or for civilians during a shortage: a daily ration of meat and bread.
an allotted amount: They finally saved up enough gas rations for the trip.
  1. provisions: Enough rations were brought along to feed all the marchers.
  2. Chiefly South Atlantic States.food or meals: The old hotel still has the best rations in town.

verb (used with object)

Origin of ration

1540–50; < French < Latin ratiōn- (stem of ratiō); see reason
Related formsun·ra·tioned, adjective

Synonyms for ration

1, 2. portion, allotment. 1, 3. See food. 4. mete, dole, allot.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ration

Contemporary Examples of ration

  • This is the relevant passage: And who will suffer the most when they ration care?

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Reality of Death Panels

    Megan McArdle

    October 31, 2012

  • That first couple of weeks, before any contact had been made, they survived on what was meant to be a two-day ration of food.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Behind Chile's Miracle Mine Rescue

    Constantino Diaz-Duran

    October 9, 2010

Historical Examples of ration

British Dictionary definitions for ration



  1. a fixed allowance of food, provisions, etc, esp a statutory one for civilians in time of scarcity or soldiers in time of wara tea ration
  2. (as modifier)a ration book
a sufficient or adequate amountyou've had your ration of television for today

verb (tr)

(often foll by out) to distribute (provisions), esp to an army
to restrict the distribution or consumption of (a commodity) by (people)the government has rationed sugar; sugar is short, so I'll have to ration you
See also rations

Word Origin for ration

C18: via French from Latin ratiō calculation; see reason
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for ration

1550, "reasoning," later, "relation of one number to another" (1660s), then "fixed allowance of food" (1702, often rations, from French ration in this sense), from Latin rationem (nominative ratio) "a reckoning, calculation, proportion" (see ratio). The military pronunciation (rhymes with fashion) took over from the preferred civilian pronunciation (rhymes with nation) during World War I.


"put (someone) on a fixed allowance," 1859, from ration (n.); sense of "apportion in fixed amounts" is from 1870. Related: Rationed; rationing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper