Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin rata, from Latin (pro) rata (parte) according to a fixed proportion Date: 15th century
- 1 a : reckoned value : valuation
- b obsolete : estimation
- b : a charge, payment, or price fixed according to a ratio, scale, or standard: as (1) : a charge per unit of a public-service commodity (2) : a charge per unit of freight or passenger service (3) : a unit charge or ratio used in assessing property taxes (4) British : a local tax
- 4 a : a quantity, amount, or degree of something measured per unit of something else <her typing rate was 80 words per minute>
- b : an amount of payment or charge based on another amount; specifically : the amount of premium per unit of insurance
- 5 : relative condition or quality : class
In mathematics, a rate is a ratio between two measurements, often with different units. If the unit or quantity in respect of which something is changing is not specified, usually the rate is per unit time. However, a rate of change can be specified per unit time, or per unit of length or mass or another quantity. The most common type of rate is "per unit time", such as speed, heart rate and flux. Rates that have a non-time denominator include exchange rates, literacy rates and electric flux.
In describing the units of a rate, the word "per" is used to separate the units of the two measurements used to calculate the rate (for example a heart rate is expressed "beats per minute"). A rate defined using two numbers of the same units (such as tax rates) or counts (such as literacy rate) will result in a dimensionless quantity, which can be expressed as a percentage (for example, the global literacy rate in 1998 was 80%) or fraction or as a multiple.
Often "rate" is a synonym of rhythm or frequency, a count per second (i.e. Hertz) e.g. radio frequencies or heart rate or sample rate.