Definition of ration in English:



  • 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’
    • ‘We allowed the staff to use the card to buy the ration for themselves.’
    • ‘For example, it significantly reduced ration and fuel costs through consolidated contracting and distribution.’
    • ‘Food, previously supplied on ration, is scarce and expensive.’
    • ‘Although even those sacred cows have had their hay ration reduced in the last few years.’
    • ‘All milking females are fed the same ration and no allowances is made for stage of lactation.’
    • ‘Petrol was scarce in the world let alone Ireland and was available on ration for essential services such as fire, ambulance, police, taxi and doctors.’
    • ‘The first type, people come once a week, are weighed and measured, and receive their weekly ration.’
    • ‘Ivan Denisovich eats the half ration of bread he brought with him.’
    • ‘He urged processors to bring in a subsidy on ration to help farmers' meet extra feed costs.’
    • ‘Cows are fed a total mixed ration and those yielding over 25 litres are fed concentrates in the parlour.’
    • ‘Two pounds of food a day was their ration, including ‘meat fibre mixed with fat’.’
    • ‘Slave families typically received a scant weekly ration of cornmeal and fatty pork.’
    • ‘For example a 1,200-pound mature horse at maintenance may need the total ration to supply 1.5 to 1.75 pounds of protein per day to meet these needs.’
    • ‘While they wait for the train, the prisoners eat their meager ration of bread.’
    • ‘Back in the barracks, Ivan Denisovich hides a portion of his bread ration inside his mattress.’
    • ‘They came out dry and floury, like something one would expect from a wartime ration.’
    • ‘So the refugees are having to swap some of their meager food ration for other vital supplies that they are not given.’
    • ‘The food ration is enclosed in yellow plastic bags.’
    • ‘Sweets had gone on ration in 1939, along with sugar and most other food and clothing items.’
    • ‘He bursts into laughter as he recalls the time a soldier from Liverpool accidentally dropped his bread ration into the soup.’
    allowance, allocation, quota, fixed amount, amount, quantity, share, portion, helping, allotment, measure, part, lot, proportion, percentage
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    1. 1.1An 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’
      • ‘The authors find this ‘surprising’ given that fully 96 percent of the population receive regular food rations.’
      • ‘Only three days' rations remained: time and options were running out.’
      • ‘Residents lived on meagre rations and in squalor, suffering epidemics of leprosy and other contagious diseases.’
      • ‘The arrival of our daily food rations was an event largely ignored.’
      • ‘They get a government grant of $17 per adult and rations of rice and wheat flour.’
      • ‘They will be given basic daily food rations, but few luxuries.’
      • ‘The husband cut his own rations, feeding his share to his son.’
      • ‘The food was tinned military rations, tuna or bully beef.’
      • ‘Some purchased food and distributed it in regular rations.’
      • ‘A much larger problem is the army rations that make up the rest of my diet.’
      • ‘Heads of families collecting the monthly rations have been asked to check the details of their households.’
      • ‘Forced labour and starvation rations ensure that prisoners are too weak to rebel.’
      • ‘He continues to visit, bringing with him extra rations of bread for Elie.’
      • ‘Unable to supplement their meager rations via hoarding or purchases on the public black markets, inmates soon deteriorated.’
      • ‘Our food supply is running low so rations have nearly been cut in half.’
      • ‘So as the forces move forward, they have already distributed 300,000 humanitarian rations.’
      • ‘All government employees were supplied with food rations, which they kept in their living quarters.’
      • ‘We had a few day's rations left, if we were careful.’
      • ‘The tinned food they had in their army rations has apparently run out.’
      supplies, provisions, food, food and drink, foodstuffs, eatables, edibles
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    2. 1.2Food; provisions.
      ‘their emergency rations ran out’
      • ‘These food rations act as an incentive for income transfer among community members.’
      • ‘The end pockets of my bag are packed full of biscuits - my staple rations for the far east.’
      • ‘Emergency rations are always carried on board the Soyuz, so we made our lunch from these.’
      • ‘As you know, the coalition countries have been air dropping daily humanitarian rations for you.’
      • ‘In 1926 Bruce Chapman, a cameleer and station hand, had a large supply of rations pilfered at Mount Peake.’
      • ‘Kanimbla also provided support to landbased personnel through the provision of fresh rations and a laundry service.’
      • ‘By contrast, the commissary officer has been responsible for the provision of rations alone.’
      • ‘They are completely dependent on the meagre rations provided by the Colombo government.’
      • ‘Sixty percent of the population depends totally on food rations from the UN oil for food programme for basic nutrition.’
      • ‘Although its taste is barely acceptable these meager rations were all the station dared supply.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Afterward, I drank whisky with my friends, nibbled at the unappetizing rations, and smoked and smoked.’
      • ‘Likewise, feedlot operators will be able to feed rations matched to an animal's economic promise.’
      • ‘Zephyr sighed and took some of the rations and began nibbling on them.’
      • ‘Supplies were limited and fresh food rations were rare.’
      nourishment, sustenance, nutriment, subsistence, fare, bread, daily bread
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    3. 1.3A fixed amount of a particular thing.
      ‘holidaymakers who like a generous ration of activity’
      • ‘I think it's worth the cost because its filters have returned a ration of sanity to my mail management.’
      • ‘They were fed on a simple ration of barley, sugar beet pulp, soya and minerals.’
      • ‘Not everyone who reads an online journal wants to sit back while photos download, and a fair proportion of people have little interest in the pictures at all, preferring to have a decent ration of reading served up every day.’
      • ‘He remembers his shock in the infant class when he was expected to work with the tiniest ration of clay he had ever seen.’
      • ‘All I needed now was a succession of day-return rail tickets and a comfortable ration of rest days.’
      • ‘However, we couldn't stay long as Mrs Mungo gulped down her ration of six dry sherries far too quickly.’
      • ‘For instance, at Kyoto the USA cut a deal of dubious morality, politely called ‘emission trading’, to buy from Third World countries their unused ration of pollution.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In fact, we've had a good ration of bright sunny days.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There's a crunchy ration of grit tracked in to the hall and kitchen now, joining with the Dolly-fluff to show just how very bad I am at routine vacuuming.’
      • ‘He states that with a ration of only two ballpoint pens each month he ‘made art’ with the ‘most banal’ of instruments.’
      • ‘Harry Cat thinks it's great of course, giving him more than double his ration of snuggle time and, so far as Harry Cat is concerned, you can't spend too much time snuggling up over winter.’
      • ‘Where latitude does have an important influence on the resultant wine is in the annual ration of sunlight, vital for photosynthesis, but often overlooked by those preoccupied by temperature.’
      • ‘A more lively character would be hard to meet and, once again, on her brief visit to Ireland, Stephanie insisted on her ration of set dancing!’
      • ‘Meanwhile the only advice it could give people was to carry on as normal - although it looks more important than ever to eat a fair ration of raw fruit and vegetables.’
      • ‘We have already had a good ration of shocks or surprises in this year's Championship and you can be certain we'll have some more.’
      • ‘Just as well Harry and Dolly don't mind an extra ration of snoring.’
      • ‘Cold showers, self-denial and a daily ration of physical discomfort were de rigueur and considered character forming.’
      • ‘The return to Greenwich Mean Time means more light in the morning, when farmers are up and about, but less in the evening, when most of us get our ration of daylight.’


  • 1 Allow each person to have only a fixed amount of (a commodity)

    ‘petrol was so strictly rationed that bikes were always in demand’
    • ‘Herring was one of the few foods that were not rationed during the war.’
    • ‘In the case of the Working for Families package, the government is giving us back rationed amounts of our own money.’
    • ‘Maybe it stems from my experiences in secondary education when all writing materials were strictly rationed.’
    • ‘He sent him to Bombay to arrange for the release of the strictly rationed newsprint.’
    • ‘Currently, the US is rationing the supply of flu vaccine to the most at risk.’
    • ‘The continuation of war-time rationing squeezed living standards, while exports were increased.’
    • ‘The solution, according to my vet, is carefully rationing her food.’
    • ‘Instead of being a right, walking has become a privilege to be carefully rationed.’
    • ‘Congestion charges are intended to ration a congested resource to those who value it the most.’
    • ‘But native Canadians still resent that their rights are rationed out by Parliament.’
    • ‘Carefully we rationed out about 13 milliliters each and then made a small toast for Christmas.’
    • ‘The summer itself was the driest since 1995, the year of water rationing.’
    • ‘You could ration care, and only pay for a limited number of services.’
    • ‘Petrol rationing during the war slowed this trend.’
    • ‘Elective services are being severely rationed around the country - with no debate.’
    • ‘"We need to ration health resources, " she said.’
    • ‘Brigid didn't understand it all, but because of some health problem Bob was strictly rationed with his daily input of liquid.’
    • ‘Waiting for services becomes the only way to ration the supply.’
    • ‘Electricity supplies were rationed because of frozen coal stocks, difficulties on the roads and labour unrest.’
    • ‘The patient's physician did not want to be the one to ration resources at the bedside.’
    control, conserve, budget
    distribute, share out, measure out, divide out, divide up, apportion, give out, deal out, issue, allocate, allot, dispense, hand out, pass out, dole out, parcel out
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Allow someone to have only (a fixed amount of a commodity)
      ‘the population was rationed to four litres of water per person per day’
      • ‘The ends, along with tackles, rationed Auburn to 43 yards rushing on 36 carries in USC's 23-0 win.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Swashbuckling forward play which illuminated the gloomy wasteland of the National League has been rationed to tantalising glimpses.’
      • ‘While people trapped in the Convention Center had no water and those in the Superdome were rationed to a pint a day, the USS Bataan waited for federal orders just offshore.’
      • ‘Tech came after Weinke hard with a variety of blitzes that resulted in four sacks and rationed Florida State to 30 yards rushing.’
      • ‘Beer is rationed to the slaves building the Egyptian pyramids.’


  • 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’
      • ‘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.