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Ration vs Allowance vs Dole vs Pittance

Rationallowancedolepittance denote the amount of food, supplies, or money allotted to an individual.

Ration implies apportionment and, often, equal sharing. Specifically it is applied in military and naval use to the daily supply of provisions given each man, and in stockbreeding to the daily or periodical supply of food for each animal. In these uses it generally implies dietary variety and restricted amounts of each food.

When used of a particular food or commodity (as meat or gasoline) it implies a shortage in the supply and a limitation on the amount allowed each person.

Allowance, though often interchangeable with ration, is wider in its range of application. Both imply restriction in amount, but allowance stresses granting rather than sharing and is applicable to money and many other things besides food or commodities.

Dole tends to imply a grudging division and needy or sometimes grasping recipients. In current, chiefly British, use dole is applied to a payment to unemployed workers, whether in the form of relief or insurance, by the national government.

Pittance is likely to suggest, or even stress, scantiness or meagerness. It is applicable to a ration, an allowance, a dole, or a wage, the context usually making the reference clear.