[ per-sen-tij ]
/ pərˈsɛn tɪdʒ /
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a rate or proportion per hundred.
an allowance, commission, or rate of interest calculated by percent.
a proportion in general: Only a small percentage of the class will graduate with honors.
gain; benefit; profit; advantage.
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Origin of percentage

First recorded in 1780–90; percent + -age

words often confused with percentage

See percent.


per·cent·aged, adjective


percent, percentage , percentile (see confusables note at percent)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is a percentage?

Percentage is a rate or proportion per hundred, as in This graph shows the percentage of homes that have a microwave.

Percentage is also used more generally to mean any proportion, as in Studies have shown that a large percentage of people love cute animals.

A percent is one one-hundredth (1/100) of something. Percentage refers to the rate or proportion of that one hundred. Usually, you will see the word percentage used in math equations or statistics or when someone is measuring the increase and decrease in rates.

Informally, percentage can mean a gain or advantage, as in There is no percentage to be gained from lying to the sheriff.

Generally, percentage and percent can be used interchangeably when referring to vague proportions. However, the word percentage never follows an exact number. In this case, only percent can be used in The number of pet owners increased by 10 percent.

A percentile is any of the possible 100 equal parts a range of values can be divided into. A given percentile means that the percentage of all possible outcomes is lower or lesser than the given percentile. For example, if you score in the 92nd percentile of an exam, you scored higher than 92 percent of all other people who took the exam.

Example: After careful measuring, the percentage of people who hated pineapple on pizza was found to be significantly higher than first thought.

Where does percentage come from?

The first records of the word percentage come from around 1780. It combines the word percent, referring to “one-hundredth” or a rate per one hundred, and the suffix age in the sense of “quantity, measure, or charge.” Percentage is a measurement of something per hundred.

Percentage is an incredibly common way we divide things into proportions. Some common things we express using percentage include how much of our daily fat a food contains, how much you should tip a waitperson, and how confident a weatherperson is that it will rain today.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to percentage?

  • percentaged (adjective)

What are some synonyms for percentage?

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

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

What are some words percentage may be commonly confused with?

How is percentage used in real life?

Percentage is a very commonly used measurement in rates and proportions.



Try using percentage!

Is percentage used correctly in the following sentence? 

By the end of the day, 80 percentage of the kittens had been adopted.

How to use percentage in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for percentage

/ (pəˈsɛntɪdʒ) /

proportion or rate per hundred parts
commerce the interest, tax, commission, or allowance on a hundred items
any proportion in relation to the whole
informal profit or advantage
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