proportion

1 of 2

noun

pro·​por·​tion prə-ˈpȯr-shən How to pronounce proportion (audio)
1
: harmonious relation of parts to each other or to the whole : balance, symmetry
2
a
: proper or equal share
each did her proportion of the work
3
: the relation of one part to another or to the whole with respect to magnitude, quantity, or degree : ratio
4
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

proportion

2 of 2

verb

proportioned; proportioning prə-ˈpȯr-sh(ə-)niŋ How to pronounce proportion (audio)

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
3
Phrases
in proportion

Examples of proportion in a Sentence

Noun 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
Low-income households already spend a far higher proportion of their income on fuel costs, and switching to an EV remains financially out of reach for many. Ari Plachta, Sacramento Bee, 23 Feb. 2024 Candidates must detail their job responsibilities, outlining specific tasks, projects, and the proportion of time dedicated to activities relevant to management accounting and financial management. Bryce Welker, Miami Herald, 22 Feb. 2024 The visual differentiation designers created by varying the proportions of two vehicles within an inch of each other in most dimensions is impressive. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, 22 Feb. 2024 Although the number of people who smoke cigarettes in the US has fallen to one of the lowest levels in history, the proportion of those who smoke menthols has been increasing, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Jen Christensen, CNN, 21 Feb. 2024 These other startups and even big companies have a high proportion of engineering to research science. Will Knight, WIRED, 19 Feb. 2024 The houses do not have garages, and their driveways are wide enough for one vehicle or two motorcycles — proportions that pushed the sale prices to well under $200,000. Conor Dougherty, New York Times, 17 Feb. 2024 Madame Grès, a Jewish couturier, openly defied the rules set by the Nazis, creating displays in her windows which mirrored the colors and proportions of the French flag. Rachel Elspeth Gross, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 Savanta reports that a significantly higher proportion of European Gen Z and millennials plan to spend less on alcohol both in and out of the home in the next three months. Byryan Hogg, Fortune Europe, 12 Feb. 2024
Verb
Another important principle, then, revives Hamilton’s dictum that the means must be proportioned to the mischief. Hal Brands, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 The kitchen is spacious, efficiently arranged, and well equipped, while the nearby family room is cozily proportioned. Aditiashetty, Robb Report, 16 Feb. 2024 Thick stitching keeps its seams together, with fibrous filling proportioned within the shell to stay in place without feeling stiff. Megan Ulu-Lani Boyanton, Better Homes & Gardens, 14 Feb. 2024 Body: average height but dramatically proportioned. Mary Gaitskill, The New Yorker, 5 Feb. 2024 Can be made in no time and is perfectly proportioned for two! Fox News, 24 Feb. 2021 The flat sheet is also generously proportioned with a beautifully luxurious drape. Kathleen Felton, Better Homes & Gardens, 25 Jan. 2024 Located on the 12th floor with big, north-facing windows, the apartment was, though technically a studio, graciously proportioned, with a dressing area, two large closets, and a spacious bathroom with the original black-and-white tile. Curbed, 23 Jan. 2024 That long and lean financial accessory, proportioned for a checkbook, and fitted with an interior cash pocket and slots for perhaps a dozen credit cards. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, 29 Dec. 2023 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English proporcioun, proporcion "comparative relation in magnitude, ratio," borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French proporcion, proporciun, borrowed from Latin prōportiōn-, prōportiō "analogy, proper spatial relation between parts" (Medieval Latin also "comparative relation in magnitude"), univerbation of prō portiōne "in the degree proper to each, proportionately" — more at portion entry 1

Verb

Middle English proporciounen "to compose (a mixture) according to proportions, measure (two things) in relation to each other, form according to proper proportions," borrowed from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French proporcioner, borrowed from Medieval Latin prōportiōnāre, derivative of Latin prōportiōn-, prōportiō "analogy, proper spatial relation between parts" — more at proportion entry 1

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near proportion

Cite this Entry

“Proportion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/proportion. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

proportion

1 of 2 noun
pro·​por·​tion p(r)ə-ˈpōr-shən How to pronounce proportion (audio)
-ˈpȯr-
1
: the size, number, or amount of one thing or group as compared to the size, number, or amount of another
the proportion of boys to girls in our class is three to one
2
: a balanced or pleasing arrangement
out of proportion
3
: a statement of the equality of two ratios (as ⁴⁄₂ = ¹⁰⁄₅) compare extreme entry 2 sense 2, mean entry 4 sense 2b
4
: a fair or just share
did our proportion of the work
5
: dimension sense 1b
a crisis of large proportions
the proportions of a room

proportion

2 of 2 verb
proportioned; proportioning
-sh(ə-)niŋ
1
: to adjust something to fit with something else
2
: to make the parts of go well with each other

More from Merriam-Webster on proportion

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!