1. 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.
  2. an allotted amount: They finally saved up enough gas rations for the trip.
  3. rations,
    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)

  1. to supply, apportion, or distribute as rations (often followed by out): to ration out food to an army.
  2. to supply or provide with rations: to ration an army with food.
  3. to restrict the consumption of (a commodity, food, etc.): to ration meat during war.
  4. to restrict the consumption of (a consumer): The civilian population was rationed while the war lasted.


    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
  1. a sufficient or adequate amountyou’ve had your ration of television for today

verb (tr)

  1. (often foll by out) to distribute (provisions), esp to an army
  2. 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

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.

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