[ dis-pruh-pawr-shuh-nit, -pohr- ]
/ ˌdɪs prəˈpɔr ʃə nɪt, -ˈpoʊr- /


not proportionate; out of proportion, as in size or number.

Origin of disproportionate

First recorded in 1544–55; dis-1 + proportionate

OTHER WORDS FROM disproportionate

dis·pro·por·tion·ate·ly, adverbdis·pro·por·tion·ate·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020


What does disproportionate mean?

Disproportionate means uneven or out of balance with something in terms of size, ratio, degree, or extent.

Disproportionate is the opposite of proportionate. Proportionate is the adjective form of the noun proportion, which refers to the relative size of two or more things. When something is described as disproportionate to something else, it means they are somehow unevenly matched.

Example: The military response—striking a dozen different sites with missiles—has been criticized as disproportionate to the act that supposedly provoked it—a single plane briefly entering a no-fly zone.

Where does disproportionate come from?

The first records of disproportionate come from the mid-1500s. The word is a combination of the prefix dis-, meaning “not,” and the word proportionate. Proportionate is the adjective form of the noun proportion, which comes from the Latin prōportiōn-, meaning “symmetry” or “analogy.”

In general, disproportionate relates to the sizes, degrees, and amounts of things in comparison to each other. Some things are disproportionate based on being outside of what their usual proportions should be. Michelangelo’s famous sculpture David is disproportionate—the head and hands are much larger than they would be on a person of that size (of course, this was almost certainly done intentionally).

Scientists might find that a disease disproportionately affects certain people (such as those with a certain genetic makeup), meaning it affects them more than a random selection of the population. The word disproportionate is often used in criticism of things that are out of proportion in an unfair way. A punishment might be called disproportionate if it’s overly extreme, such as a long prison sentence for a minor crime.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to disproportionate?

What are some synonyms for disproportionate?

What are some words that share a root or word element with disproportionate


What are some words that often get used in discussing disproportionate?

How is disproportionate used in real life?

The word disproportionate indicates unevenness and it often implies unfairness.



Try using disproportionate!

Which of the following words is LEAST likely to be used to describe a situation considered disproportionate?

A. equal
B. uneven
C. mismatched
D. lopsided

Example sentences from the Web for disproportionate

British Dictionary definitions for disproportionate


adjective (ˌdɪsprəˈpɔːʃənɪt)

out of proportion; unequal

verb (ˌdɪsprəˈpɔːʃəˌneɪt)

chem to undergo or cause to undergo disproportionation

Derived forms of disproportionate

disproportionately, adverbdisproportionateness, noun
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