Definition of proportion in English:



  • 1A part, share, or number considered in comparative relation to a whole.

    ‘the proportion of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is rising’
    • ‘For a game that ought to have a wide appeal, I imagine that only a relatively small proportion of people will actually play it all the way through to the end.’
    • ‘A substantially higher proportion of the whole population comes to be defined as urban dwelling.’
    • ‘Improbable though it sounds, this attitude appears to be shared by a proportion of companies in almost every sector of the British economy.’
    • ‘However, this approach identifies the problem in only a relatively small proportion of the many cases where things go wrong in health care.’
    • ‘Instruct the budget committee to allocate some proportion of the funds to the service side of the organization, as they see fit.’
    • ‘There is also little agreement over what proportion of a prison population needs to be locked up in this way.’
    • ‘We have no information as to what proportion of cases were decided and what proportion were settled.’
    • ‘In addition, the study found there was a relatively low proportion of the labour force with third level qualifications.’
    • ‘Admittedly, these conditions afflict a very small proportion of the population.’
    • ‘She has also attracted the biggest proportion of male viewers to her channel.’
    • ‘If his reported revenues were to be believed he alone was contributing a surprisingly large proportion of the revenues of the Group as a whole.’
    • ‘The only good news is that this is clearly recognised by a very large proportion of the public, not just in Australia but around the world.’
    • ‘The result has been a dramatic difference with a much higher proportion of shop owners in England successfully prosecuted.’
    • ‘Primary teaching has had a far higher proportion of women teachers, many of whom are second income-earners.’
    • ‘Less good news, however, is the very low proportion of people who chose to go the polling station to exercise their democratic right to cast a ballot.’
    • ‘As might be expected, a larger than average proportion of the riding's workforce is in business and management.’
    • ‘In my view the bad cases are normally a very small proportion.’
    • ‘What proportion of tax revenues must government spend in order to collect those taxes?’
    • ‘What I said was they were given proportionally, and the member's proportion was correct.’
    • ‘For a large and rapidly expanding proportion of the workforce it represents a new identity, which enables them to opt out of work for long periods of time.’
    part, portion, amount, quantity, bit, piece, percentage, section, segment, share, quota, division, fraction, measure
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The relationship of one thing to another in terms of quantity, size, or number; ratio.
      ‘the proportion of examination to coursework’
      ‘the bleach can be diluted with water in the proportion one part bleach to ten parts water’
      • ‘The odds ratio is the same whichever way round we look at the table, but the difference and ratio of proportions are not.’
      • ‘Thus the ratio of the proportions of deleterious mutations and nonsynonymous sites to that at synonymous sites is 6.6: 1.’
      • ‘Medieval theories of ratios and proportions and of the intension and remission of forms were applied to problems of motion.’
      ratio, distribution, relative amount, relative number
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2proportions The comparative measurements or size of different parts of a whole.
      ‘the view of what constitutes perfect bodily proportions changes from one generation to the next’
      • ‘Pea coats and trench coats never seem to be out of style - they just show up in different colors and fabrics every year, and in different proportions.’
      • ‘Eyes with choroidal neovascularisation may exhibit different proportions of classic and occult leakage.’
      • ‘Removing the largest square contained in the rectangle leaves a smaller rectangle, with exactly the same proportions as the original.’
      • ‘It has been a while since time and circumstances have afforded me this luxury of stepping aside and looking at this creature of strange proportions and measures called as me.’
      • ‘Their features are more thick and in different proportions than men.’
      • ‘The emphasis on correct proportions, angles, different values and sheens have created one of the most intriguing collections in the industry.’
      • ‘It has a head, eyes, two arms, hands and a torso - and its proportions were originally measured from the body of a researcher in the lab.’
      • ‘He asserted that the reason we classify certain people as beautiful is because they come closer to Golden Ratio proportions in the face than the rest of the population.’
      • ‘If participants were to classify large and small proportions depicted within large and small pie charts, the perceptual dimension of angle could be used to classify proportions.’
      • ‘The proportions were worked out in great detail and he used his new understanding of perspective particularly in proportioning of the interior.’
      • ‘Thinking back, I could see their resemblance in some ways to the starlings I knew, though they were notably different in structure, proportions, and behavior.’
      • ‘In several states the measure passed by landslide proportions - 86% to 14% in Mississippi.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, he argued, that pleasure is due to an unconscious appreciation of the mathematical proportions of the object.’
      • ‘For more precise proportions, measure your neck size right below your Adam's apple with measuring tape.’
      • ‘For Vitruvius the proportions of the human body were fundamental in achieving beauty and he says that the proportions of the temple should follow these human proportions.’
      size, dimensions, magnitude, measurements
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3proportions Dimensions; size.
      ‘the room, despite its ample proportions, seemed too small for him’
      • ‘Indeed, the triggering event was an embarrassing error, which precipitated a scandal of regal proportions.’
      • ‘The difficulties of childhood now assume quite different proportions.’
      • ‘It was only by simplifying the issues… that Newton succeeded in reducing them to manageable proportions.’
      • ‘I shifted slightly, uncomfortably; the chair was built for different proportions.’
      • ‘She was small; petite, some might say, in terms of proportions.’
      • ‘Her relationships assume other proportions even as the country goes through the throes of upheaval.’
      • ‘I just thought it was in different proportions than it is, and that is partly due to the zoom used by the agent who took the photos on the web.’
      • ‘To my mind this was the defining moment in the great India-Pakistan cricketing divide when contests assumed proportions and dimensions other than mere sport.’
      • ‘This is an achievement of fantastic proportions.’
      • ‘Suddenly the Ireland of the ‘great craic’ so beloved of visiting stag parties began to assume different proportions.’
      • ‘If they do, a battle of different proportions may ensue.’
      • ‘At moments like this, life takes on different proportions.’
      • ‘He is a middle-aged man, of pretty stout proportions, has a long intellectual face, with beard and moustache and a fine prominent forehead, hair dark rather inclining to turn grey.’
      size, dimensions, magnitude, measurements
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4mass noun The correct, attractive, or ideal relationship between one thing and another or between the parts of a whole.
      ‘perceptions of colour, form, harmony, and proportion’
      • ‘Dürer, the first artist in the North to take up these studies, was obsessed throughout his life by the search for ideal proportion.’
      • ‘The curtain style can make or break the total harmony and proportion of a room, and we are constantly asked how to choose the most appropriate style for a window.’
      • ‘Palladian architecture adheres to the Roman principles of symmetry and proportion.’
      • ‘In fact, no matter how frenzied or freaked-out a song gets, there is always, somewhere, a sense of order and proportion.’
      • ‘The garden's structure and proportion are flawless, the colour combinations sublime.’
      • ‘Pythagoras went on to develop a very, very elaborate system of proportion.’
      • ‘So obviously something more is needed to help bring up a person's proportion and symmetry.’
      • ‘A simple technique to break up the space while retaining proportion to the primary architectural elements is to lay out a grid over your drawing.’
      • ‘To penetrate to the reality of a thing, however, requires proportion, which belongs to the realm of order and unity.’
      • ‘The houses were always designed with proportion in mind, and how it felt to move from room to room.’
      • ‘Finally, general issues of layout, proportion and composition are also examined.’
      • ‘The book begins with an essay on symmetry and then describes the use of symmetry and proportion in the design of temples.’
      • ‘Fashion may have changed over the years, but the pursuit of that ideal body proportion has not.’
      balance, symmetry, harmony, correspondence, correlation, congruity, agreement, concord
      View synonyms


[with object]formal
  • Adjust or regulate (something) so that it has a particular or suitable relationship to something else.

    ‘a life after death in which happiness can be proportioned to virtue’
    • ‘More importantly, when one looks at the overall assessment as to whether the damages are proportioned to the loss, then one can readily see that there has been no miscarriage of justice in this instance.’
    • ‘Thus, proportioning one's belief to the evidence, the wise person must reject the weaker evidence concerning the alleged miracle.’
    • ‘To me it smatters of human beings proportioning human qualities of emotion and behaviour to an animal.’
    • ‘The results of these and previous studies have enabled the authors to establish a system of proportioning the asphalt mixture, which is suitable for application in the various climate areas of China.’
    • ‘It's a system they've worked out proportioning points based on pedigree and performance.’


  • in proportion

    • 1According to a particular relationship in size, amount, or degree.

      ‘the pension was docked in proportion to earnings’
      • ‘Once they compensated for this response, the team deciphered the crumpled sheet's behavior and found that the force required for compression increases in proportion to the size of the scrunched sheet raised to a negative power.’
      • ‘The expectations in the county grew in proportion to the success of the minor team.’
      • ‘Creatinine is excreted in proportion to muscle mass, and its concentration remains relatively constant on a daily basis.’
      • ‘Within the theropods lineage leading to birds, the forelimbs lengthened in proportion to the hindlimbs, and the hand elongated in relation to the rest of the forelimb.’
      • ‘This pair of 3D models show what a man would look like if his body parts were sized in proportion to the area of the brain concerned with its sensory perception or its movement.’
      • ‘Briefly, 144 species of (mainly herbaceous) angiosperms were selected using pro rata sampling, i.e. species were sampled in proportion to the number of species in each order.’
      • ‘Housing grants under the Rural Development Programme are allocated in proportion to household income as compared to the median income of the surrounding area.’
      • ‘A big note needs a big stick to create the correct effect and the sizes go down in proportion with the notes.’
      • ‘Thus, most minor amino acids varied in proportion to each other, but correlated relatively poorly with total amino acids.’
      • ‘The fairest way of doing this is by making pro-rata payments so that creditors are paid in proportion to what they are owed.’
      1. 1.1In comparison with; in relation to.
        ‘the cuckoo's eggs are unusually small in proportion to its size’
        • ‘Calculations prove they have the most powerful muscles in proportion to their weight compared to any other living creature yet studied and this helps to account for their special taste on the plate.’
        • ‘Through much of the eighteenth century, muntins, the thin bars that divide panes of glass in a window sash, were relatively shallow in proportion to their depth.’
        • ‘As has been shown for other bird taxa, smaller species of cuckoos and hosts lay relatively larger eggs in proportion to their body mass.’
        • ‘But the corrected time gets us within ten minutes of the leader (which, if one thinks of it in proportion to the total time, is quite a wide margin).’
        • ‘Children's brains and other organs develop as they grow, and they eat a large amount of food in proportion to their body sizes.’
        • ‘Some used quantum tunnelling composites materials that change their electrical resistance in proportion to the amount of pressure applied to them.’
        • ‘The lightning produces an electromagnetic signal which travels around the world at the speed of light with an intensity in proportion to the thunderstorm activity.’
        • ‘It seems that the risks then are higher in proportion to the actual benefit these masts will provide.’
        • ‘Modulation involves raising or lowering the frequency of the carrier wave in proportion to the analogue signal.’
        • ‘There were Campbells involved certainly, and two of them were leaders, although the newly appointed head of the visitor centre is insistent that they were few in number in proportion to the whole contingent.’
        relative to, proportionate to, proportional to, commensurate with, corresponding to
        View synonyms
    • 2In the correct or appropriate relation to the size, shape, or position of other things.

      ‘her figure was completely in proportion’
      • ‘Accuracy in proportion and a high level of anatomical detail are equally important.’
      • ‘The argument for authenticity also hinges on the assumption that the footprints show a foot skeleton unique in proportion relative to human feet.’
      • ‘He said other studies of female attractiveness showed that when images of real women are examined, whether their figure is in proportion was considered the most important feature.’
      • ‘If all areas are in proportion, you have good symmetry.’
      • ‘Everything seems oversized, yet in proportion, and by summer she will qualify as the world's longest, largest, tallest, and most expensive passenger ship ever built.’
      • ‘When you are structuring your fitness programme, apart from your cardio segment, ensure that your weight training segment is geared towards keeping your body in proportion at all times.’
      • ‘Mixing involves adjusting the individual volume levels so they appear to the viewer as balanced and in proportion.’
      congruous, coordinated, matching, balanced, proportional, in proportion, compatible, well matched, well proportioned, well balanced
      View synonyms
      1. 2.1Correctly or realistically regarded in terms of relative importance or seriousness.
        ‘the problem of hooliganism has to be kept in proportion’
        • ‘Like all of these things, we need to see it in proportion.’
        • ‘I think it is wise to keep this phenomenon in proportion, however.’
        • ‘But you have to keep these things in proportion - you can't create a fortress.’
        • ‘It was good to hear someone in his position put the matter in proportion and to cut through the hype that surrounds football, especially among the big-name teams.’
        • ‘For all those people muttering into their breakfast cereal about the world wine glut, here's a small statistic from the just-completed southern hemisphere vintage to help keep tales of gloom in proportion.’
        • ‘So the stories that they are covering are actually reported in proportion and in context of the threat, as your former guest was talking about.’
        • ‘We've got to keep the discussion in proportion.’
        • ‘By all accounts, it was an isolated incident involving at worst only one or two people in a crowd of 1,600, so it must be kept in proportion.’
        • ‘Impressive as the quantities of imports from outside Europe undoubtedly were, they still need to be kept in proportion.’
        • ‘However, the threat must be kept in proportion.’
  • out of proportion

    • 1In the wrong relation to the size, shape, or position of other things.

      ‘the sculpture seemed out of proportion to its surroundings’
      • ‘The proposed nursery, which is on a separate site, introduces yet another over-large feature which is out of proportion to the existing village.’
      • ‘The steel and glass facade faces a historic brick building, rendering it completely out of proportion.’
      • ‘Coming from a small country like England, it's both overwhelming and awesome to arrive in a land that is so massively out of proportion to my day to day experiences.’
      1. 1.1Wrongly or unrealistically regarded in terms of relative importance or seriousness.
        ‘you're getting things completely out of proportion—my decision had nothing to do with him’
        ‘the award was out of all proportion to the alleged libel’
        • ‘That's the problem with assigning numbers or stars: their relative importance gets blown out of proportion.’
        • ‘I'll admit that this list tends to be much longer than reasonable, and completely out of proportion with the capacity of our kitchen or the actual utility of said tools.’
        • ‘I don't know when they think we should have paid the rates as I haven't had the bill, but it can't have been more than a week or so overdue so a summons seems completely out of proportion.’
        • ‘Maria said she kept ‘catastrophising’ everything and even the most minor upsets were blown completely out of proportion.’
        • ‘Or was I blowing an isolated incident completely out of proportion?’
        • ‘That blows a very serious issue out of proportion and could cause people who are skeptical to become even more skeptical.’
        • ‘Ironically the figures consistently confirm that fear of crime is completely out of proportion with reality.’
        • ‘I think in large part it has been blown out of proportion but it was a serious matter and we are hoping to put it behind us.’
        • ‘Even though there is no evidence of negative human health effects and environmental concerns are blown completely out of proportion, great fear has been whipped up in the public.’
        • ‘But this will have little to do with the principle of partnership or other such ideas which have often been blown completely out of proportion in the literature.’
        incommensurate with, disproportionate to, relatively too large for, relatively too small for, not appropriate for
        View synonyms
  • sense of proportion

    • The ability to judge the relative importance or seriousness of things.

      ‘just talking about it will help you to keep a sense of proportion’
      • ‘While it is important to document and acknowledge the shortcomings of public figures, it is also important to maintain a sense of proportion.’
      • ‘Thus Herodotus tried by means of his reportage to consolidate the most important message of Greek ethics: restraint, a sense of proportion and moderation.’
      • ‘One can say that three pre-eminent qualities are decisive for the politician: passion, a feeling of responsibility, and a sense of proportion.’
      • ‘Doesn't this episode suggest that what he needs, apart from a sense of proportion, is guidance, training?’
      • ‘It is important to keep a sense of proportion about these things and, it seems to me, there are times when our elders and betters lose the run of themselves.’
      • ‘Day-to-day life can grind away a sense of proportion and a sense of what is really important.’
      • ‘But affability, like intelligence, can mask a mean and meager spirit as well as the absence of a sense of proportion.’
      • ‘The Mayor is right to urge a sense of proportion - we must never lose our sense of humour - but he is also right to condemn the articles in question.’
      • ‘‘In the recent balance sheet of profit and loss, the biggest loss has been any sense of proportion about the state of the economy’.’
      • ‘But consideration for all concerned, not to mention common sense, demands that this sensitive issue is approached with a sense of proportion.’


Late Middle English: from Old French, from Latin proportio(n-), from pro portione ‘in respect of (its or a person's) share’.