pro·​por·​tion | \prə-ˈpȯr-shən \

Definition of proportion 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : harmonious relation of parts to each other or to the whole : balance, symmetry

2a : proper or equal share each did her proportion of the work

b : quota, percentage

3 : the relation of one part to another or to the whole with respect to magnitude, quantity, or degree : ratio

5 : a statement of equality between two ratios in which the first of the four terms divided by the second equals the third divided by the fourth (as in 4/2=10/5) — compare extreme sense 1b, mean sense 1c

in proportion


proportioned; proportioning\ prə-​ˈpȯr-​sh(ə-​)niŋ \

Definition of proportion (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to adjust (a part or thing) in size relative to other parts or things

2 : to make the parts of harmonious or symmetrical

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Examples of proportion in a Sentence


His ears were drawn out of proportion with his head. The size of the window seems out of proportion with the height of the wall.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Assuming normal sauropodomorph proportions, Apaldetti estimates that the living animal would have been between 26 and 33 feet long and weigh around 10 tons, or as much as two or three African elephants. Brian Switek, Smithsonian, "The Most Massive of Dinos Evolved Earlier Than Previously Thought," 9 July 2018 Berlin politicians and advocates of the city’s policies argue that the large proportion of people who rent, rather than own, their homes—some 84% in Berlin and 54% in Germany as a whole, both high by European standards—justifies the means. Andrea Thomas, WSJ, "Berlin Aims to Cut Its Residential Real-Estate Boom Down to Size," 5 July 2018 Loose, exaggerated plays on proportion then followed. Washington Post, "Standing ovation at Valentino caps Paris couture week," 4 July 2018 The question—ultimately unanswerable—revolves around proportions. Jon Wertheim,, "Mailbag: Is Current Form or Past Slam Performance a Better Indicator of Success in Majors?," 27 June 2018 As recently as 2000, roughly half of those between the ages of 16 and 19 worked summer jobs, but that proportion dropped to about 30 percent during the financial crisis. Ann Carrns, New York Times, "The Virtues of a Summer Job," 13 July 2018 Luckily, a banana leaf of comic proportion sheltered her head. Neima Jahromi, The New Yorker, "Gilligan’s at Soho Grand," 12 July 2018 The world’s most stylish took a dichotomous approach to the sticky situation, choosing clothes of either such full and waft-y proportions as to barely touch the body, or dresses so tiny as to have barely anything to touch. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "10 Best Dressed: Week of July 9, 2018," 9 July 2018 The knockout stages of the 2018 World Cup will kick off with an explosion of supernova proportions, as two of the tournament's stratospheric names go head to head for a place in the quarter finals., "World Cup Preview: France vs Argentina - Recent Form, Team News, Predictions and More," 29 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The styles of these eleven pieces vary — some are formally proportioned, others fantasy-like. Peter Dobrin,, "Paul Lewis closes Philadelphia Chamber Music Society piano series," 11 May 2018 The creature is the third type of enormous pterosaur revealed so far from this region, which means Transylvania can now boast the world’s largest known concentration of epically proportioned flying reptiles. National Geographic, "Ancient Flying Predator Found in Transylvania," 8 May 2018 When Jolie took on the role, there were criticisms from diehard fans of the video game series that her being American and not ... proportioned to the physical design of the character were setbacks. Josh Spiegel, The Hollywood Reporter, "Is Alicia Vikander Too Good for 'Tomb Raider'?," 16 Mar. 2018 The all-new car’s body is nicely proportioned, albeit less than muscular. Al Haas,, "Retooled Chevrolet Equinox provides a solid ride | Al Haas," 6 Mar. 2018 A few of the son’s images were worthy of the name Audubon, but most were awkward imitations of his father’s style, poorly proportioned and lifeless. William Souder, Smithsonian, "The Fantastic Beasts of John James Audubon’s Little-Known Book on Mammals," 23 Feb. 2018 The looks were layered, say, a jacket over a tunic and trousers, all loose, well-proportioned and easy to wear. Colleen Barry, The Seattle Times, "Versace goes punk wild with homey looks," 13 Jan. 2018 Other new features include a hill start assist, so no more rollback when starting on a incline, electronic brake force distribution which automatically proportions the amount of force to the front and rear brakes, and adjustable Fox QS3 shocks. Timothy Dahl, Popular Mechanics, "Working the Ranch With Honda's New Pioneer UTV," 9 Jan. 2018 The homes are generously proportioned; this one has a huge pantry filled with all different kinds of china and place settings, great big chargers and raffia table mats. David A. Keeps, House Beautiful, "A Former Director for Valentino Reveals Her Insider Secrets for Decorating a Room," 25 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'proportion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of proportion


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for proportion


Middle English proporcion, from Anglo-French, from Latin proportion-, proportio, from pro for + portion-, portio portion — more at for

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Last Updated

11 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for proportion

The first known use of proportion was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for proportion



English Language Learners Definition of proportion

: an amount that is a part of a whole

: the relationship that exists between the size, number, or amount of two things

: the correct or appropriate relationship between the size, shape, and position of the different parts of something


pro·​por·​tion | \prə-ˈpȯr-shən \

Kids Definition of proportion

1 : the size, number, or amount of one thing or group of things as compared to that of another thing or group of things The proportion of boys to girls in our class is two to one.

2 : a balanced or pleasing arrangement The oversize garage is out of proportion with the house.

3 : a statement of the equality of two ratios (as ⁴/₂ = ¹⁰/₅)

4 : a fair or just share I did my proportion of the work.

5 : size, shape, or extent of something It was a crisis of large proportions.

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Comments on proportion

What made you want to look up proportion? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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