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por·​tion ˈpȯr-shən How to pronounce portion (audio)
: an individual's part or share of something: such as
: a share received by gift or inheritance
: dowry
: enough food especially of one kind to serve one person at one meal
: an individual's lot, fate, or fortune : one's share of good and evil
: an often limited part of a whole


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portioned; portioning ˈpȯr-sh(ə-)niŋ How to pronounce portion (audio)

transitive verb

: to divide into portions : distribute
portioned out the food equally
: to allot a dowry to : dower
Choose the Right Synonym for portion

part, portion, piece, member, division, section, segment, fragment mean something less than the whole.

part is a general term appropriate when indefiniteness is required.

they ran only part of the way

portion implies an assigned or allotted part.

cut the pie into six portions

piece applies to a separate or detached part of a whole.

a puzzle with 500 pieces

member suggests one of the functional units composing a body.

a structural member

division applies to a large or diversified part.

the manufacturing division of the company

section applies to a relatively small or uniform part.

the entertainment section of the newspaper

segment applies to a part separated or marked out by or as if by natural lines of cleavage.

the retired segment of the population

fragment applies to a part produced by or as if by breaking off.

only a fragment of the play still exists

fate, destiny, lot, portion, doom mean a predetermined state or end.

fate implies an inevitable and usually an adverse outcome.

the fate of the submarine is unknown

destiny implies something foreordained and often suggests a great or noble course or end.

the country's destiny to be a model of liberty to the world

lot and portion imply a distribution by fate or destiny, lot suggesting blind chance

it was her lot to die childless

, portion implying the apportioning of good and evil.

remorse was his daily portion

doom distinctly implies a grim or calamitous fate.

if the rebellion fails, his doom is certain

Examples of portion in a Sentence

Noun A portion of the donations will be given to the orphanage. Portions of land were used for farming. A considerable portion of the city was flooded. The restaurant gives large portions. She divided the pie into six equal portions. Verb The work was portioned to each member of the staff. portioned out the medical supplies equally See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Pink spent a solid portion of her year performing in stadiums on the Summer Carnival tour and recently wrapped her shows in support of the album with a slate of arena shows in North America. Larisha Paul, Rolling Stone, 1 Dec. 2023 Also, and this is increasingly forgotten in the United Kingdom, a large portion of Labour voters also supported Brexit. Zenger News, Forbes, 30 Nov. 2023 Musk’s portion has ended, the phones came out for pictures, and DealBook has come to a close. Mia Sato, The Verge, 30 Nov. 2023 Vogue may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. Boutayna Chokrane, Vogue, 30 Nov. 2023 Gaffey agreed to Zuckerman's request and ordered the courtroom closed for a portion of the day to discuss the evidence. Cara Tabachnick, CBS News, 29 Nov. 2023 General admission is $40, with a portion of proceeds going to Make-A-Wish San Diego, and includes skate rental and 90 minutes of skating. The San Diego Union-Tribune Staff, San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 Nov. 2023 Jamie Dimon’s plan to sell a portion of his stock in JPMorgan Chase for the first time doesn’t mean the banking titan is getting ready to retire. Sarah E. Needleman, WSJ, 29 Nov. 2023 The firm’s original plan was to expand the space by removing a wall that separated the kitchen and dining room and bumping a portion of an external wall out by several feet. Sophia Solano, Washington Post, 28 Nov. 2023
Serve the soup family-style or portioned into bowls, topping with the hot bread right before serving. Melissa Gray, Southern Living, 15 Nov. 2023 For a snack serving that's easy to enjoy on the go, portion the potato salad into small mason jars or cups and attach or display next to forks. Karla Walsh, Better Homes & Gardens, 14 Nov. 2023 The pair rely on digital scales to portion out loose cumin, turmeric and dried beans. Heba Farouk Mahfouz, Washington Post, 1 Sep. 2023 Unlike traditional shortcakes that are individually portioned, this version bakes the dough in one big slab to up the drama factor. Jesse Szewczyk, Bon Appétit, 1 Aug. 2023 Conveniently portioned and simple to serve, these sliders are so much easier for game day parties and kids' gatherings than flipping patties all night. Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 11 Oct. 2023 Scoop then roll: Use a small scoop to portion the mixture before rolling for consistently-sized balls. Southern Living Test Kitchen, Southern Living, 25 Oct. 2023 Grief portioned into orderly stages does not make sense, on any level. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 26 Sep. 2023 The meals are flavorful, full of texture, and perfectly portioned. Bridget Degnan, Peoplemag, 3 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'portion.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English porcioun, porcion "part allotted to a person or institution, share, section into which a thing is divided, quantity", borrowed from Anglo-French porciun, porcioun, borrowed from Latin portiōn-, portiō "ratio, proportion, part, share" (earliest in the phrase prō portiōne "in the degree proper to each, proportionately"), probably by dissimilation from *prōrtiōne, by univerbation and syncope from prō ratiōne "in proportion" (with ratiō "reckoning, calculation, proportion") — more at pro- entry 2, reason entry 1

Note: If correct, this etymology represents the first of two univerbations with the preposition/prefix prō̆, the first with ratiōn- (whence *prō ratiōne > *prōratiōne > *prōrtiōne > portiōn-, portiō), the second with the newly formed noun portiō (whence prō portiōne > *prōportiōne > prōportiōn-, prōportiō—see proportion entry 1). Also suggested is derivation of portiō from partītiōn-, partītiō "sharing out, distribution, division of a speech" (see partition entry 1), assuming *prō partiōne reduced from *prō partītione; however, the noun partītiō is not attested before Cicero, while portiō is used already by Plautus.


Middle English portionen, porciounen "to divide into portions," borrowed from Anglo-French porcioner, borrowed from Medieval Latin portiōnāre, derivative of Latin portiōn-, portiō "ratio, proportion, part, share" — more at portion entry 1

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of portion was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near portion

Cite this Entry

“Portion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portion. Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
por·​tion ˈpōr-shən How to pronounce portion (audio)
: one's share of a whole
a portion of food
: dowry
: one's lot or fate
: a part of a whole


2 of 2 verb
portioned; portioning -sh(ə-)niŋ How to pronounce portion (audio)

More from Merriam-Webster on portion

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