General English


  • noun an amount of food given to an animal or person


  • verb to allow someone only a certain amount (of food or money)


  • In the presence of excess demand (for a good, etc.), to allocate among demanders by some means other than the price they are willing to pay.
  • The quantity of a rationed good allocated to one demander.


  • noun a regulation amount of food, fuel or other resource, which is issued or available to a person in times of shortage

Origin & History of “ration”

Ration, like reason, comes from Latin ratiō, a derivative of the verb rērī ‘think, calculate’. this meant, among other things, ‘calculation, computation’, in which sense it has yielded English ratio (17th c.). In the middle Ages it was used for an ‘amount of provisions calculated for a soldier’, and that meaning has channelled via Spanish ración and French ration into English as ration. The ‘thinking’ sense of ratiō has reached English as reason, but its derivative rational (14th c.) is less heavily disguised. Other English descendants of Latin rērī include rate and ratify (14th c.), and the -red of hundred comes from a prehistoric Germanic *rath ‘number’, which came ultimately from Latin ratiō.