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

The inherent silliness of all sorts of things shrinking and growing to ridiculous proportions is played for great visual comedy and really fun fight scenes—which is kind of remarkable given that most Marvel movies are so bad at action. Joshua Rivera, GQ, "Ant-Man and the Wasp," 5 July 2018 After a few minutes, though, my gaze becomes judgmental, magnifying my skin to supernatural proportions. Tess Garcia, Teen Vogue, "My Acne-Picking Habit Has Changed Me in Unexpected Ways," 25 June 2018 Pink elevates these mundane concerns to sacred proportions. Michael Friedrich, The New Republic, "Spirit of the Strip Mall," 24 May 2018 The list grew, and grew, to ridiculous proportions. Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter, "Critic's Notebook: In Praise of 10 Superbly Written TV Series," 23 May 2018 Wochit As Marion County sees its hepatitis C rate soar to epidemic proportions, local health officials Thursday called for the county to start the state’s eighth syringe exchange program. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "Marion County could get needle exchange program, as hepatitis C rates soar," 17 May 2018 All the indicators that day were for something big, and this tornado quickly grew to immense proportions. National Geographic, "This Storm Chaser Risked It All for Tornado Research," 21 Apr. 2018 And there's little question that the events of the past week have turned the pressure up to brain-busting proportions. Chris Cillizza, CNN, "The pressure on Donald Trump is reaching crushing proportions," 21 Mar. 2018 The previous day, the massive winds had churned the ocean up to IMAX proportions, crumbling slabs of icy whitecaps that exploded when the onshore winds threw them onto the rocky coast. Billy Baker,, "When nor’easter’s howl comes, he goes surfing," 20 Mar. 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

16 Sep 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).


the setting in which something occurs

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