I guess it could be a broken sentence but it ends with a period... So, I'm really not sure.. That's the sentence given as an example on the paid version of www.dictionary.comI'm not sure exactly what you're asking, but FWIW ratio here means how many shoppers there were relative to how many elevators -
1000 shoppers and 4 elevators = a 250:1 ratio
200 shoppers and 2 elevators = a 100:1 ratio
Without further context I can't conclude anything further about the sentence either, sorry - but (mathematically speaking) the meaning of "ratio of shoppers to elevators" is as I posted.
But as a standalone sentence it doesn't make any sense at all, so why would dictionary.com use it as an example?This sentence is used as an example of many words in different places: ratio, conclude and others. It is from "Elevator Hack" by Nick Paumgarten, originally published in The New Yorker on October 17, 2005. With the sentence before, it reads "How could a man be sure that other passengers were even there? From the ratio of shoppers to elevators, he might conclude that they were not." The context is a discussion of a person traveling from the ninth floor to the ground floor of a building without stopping for anyone else.
The meaning of ratio is as posted. In this context, the relevant numbers are: one elevator, no other shoppers - as far as the person in that elevator could tell.
(The real source was not hard to find. Google is your friend.)
You would have to ask the dictionary.com editors - however, if we're speculating, it might just be selected from a body of texts by a "dumb" algorithm?But as a standalone sentence it doesn't make any sense at all, so why would dictionary.com use it as an example?