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[pruh-pawr-shuh n, -pohr-] /prəˈpɔr ʃən, -ˈpoʊr-/
comparative relation between things or magnitudes as to size, quantity, number, etc.; ratio.
proper relation between things or parts:
to have tastes way out of proportion to one's financial means.
relative size or extent.
proportions, dimensions or size:
a rock of gigantic proportions.
a portion or part in its relation to the whole:
A large proportion of the debt remains.
symmetry, harmony, or balance:
an architect with a sense of proportion.
the significance of a thing or event that an objective view reveals:
You must try to see these mishaps in proportion.
Mathematics. a relation of four quantities such that the first divided by the second is equal to the third divided by the fourth; the equality of ratios.
Compare rule of three.
Archaic. analogy; comparison.
verb (used with object)
to adjust in proper proportion or relation, as to size, quantity, etc.
to balance or harmonize the proportions of.
Origin of proportion
1350-1400; Middle English proporcio(u)n < Latin prōportiōn- (stem of prōportiō) symmetry, analogy. See pro-1, portion
Related forms
proportioner, noun
proportionless, adjective
misproportion, noun
reproportion, verb (used with object)
superproportion, noun
1. comparison. 5. share. 6. distribution, arrangement. See symmetry. 10. regulate, arrange, balance, harmonize. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for proportions
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But it is hardly grandiose enough in its proportions to be very well adapted to the talent of Miss Cushman.

    Literary and Social Essays George William Curtis
  • His intentions and the proportions of his generosity transpired.

    White Lies Charles Reade
  • But it is most of all interesting for the nobility of its proportions and the simplicity of its architecture.

    Ave Roma Immortalis, Vol. 1 Francis Marion Crawford
  • The amount of sand was again increased so that the proportions were 1-3.

    Concrete Construction Halbert P. Gillette
  • The flying buttresses are especially graceful and the great dome is majestic in its proportions.

    The Story of Seville Walter M. Gallichan
British Dictionary definitions for proportions


the relationship between different things or parts with respect to comparative size, number, or degree; relative magnitude or extent; ratio
the correct or desirable relationship between parts of a whole; balance or symmetry
a part considered with respect to the whole
(pl) dimensions or size: a building of vast proportions
a share, part, or quota
(maths) a relationship that maintains a constant ratio between two variable quantities: x increases in direct proportion to y
(maths) a relationship between four numbers or quantities in which the ratio of the first pair equals the ratio of the second pair
verb (transitive)
to adjust in relative amount, size, etc
to cause to be harmonious in relationship of parts
Derived Forms
proportionable, adjective
proportionability, noun
proportionably, adverb
proportionment, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin prōportiō (a translation of Greek analogia), from phrase prō portione, literally: for (its, his, one's) portion
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for proportions



late 14c., "due relation of one part to another," also "size, extent; compartative relation in size, degree, number, etc.," from Old French proporcion "measure, proportion" (13c.), from Latin proportionem (nominative proportio) "comparative relation, analogy," from phrase pro portione "according to the relation" (of parts to each other), from pro "for" (see pro-) + ablative of *partio "division," related to pars (see part (n.)). Phrase out of proportion attested by 1670s.

My fortunes [are] as ill proportioned as your legs. [John Marston, "Antonio and Mellida," 1602]


"to adjust or regulate the proportions of," late 14c., from proportion (n.) and in part from Middle French proporcioner and directly from Medieval Latin proportionare. Related: Proportioned; proportioning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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proportions in Science
A statement of equality between two ratios. Four quantities, a, b, c, and d, are said to be in proportion if a/b = c/d .
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with proportions


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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