from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A part or amount considered in relation to a whole.
  • noun A relationship between things or parts of things with respect to comparative magnitude, quantity, or degree.
  • noun A relationship between quantities such that if one varies then another varies in a manner dependent on the first.
  • noun The agreeable or harmonious relation of parts within a whole.
  • noun Dimensions; size.
  • noun Mathematics A statement of equality between two ratios. Four quantities, a, b, c, d, are said to be in proportion if a/b = c/d .
  • transitive verb To adjust so that proper relations between parts are attained.
  • transitive verb To form the parts of with balance or symmetry.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The relation of one thing to another in respect to size, quantity, magnitude of corresponding parts, capacity, or degree.
  • noun Specifically, the relation of one part to another or to the whole with respect to magnitude; the relative size and arrangement of parts: as, the proportion of the parts of an edifice, or of the human body. Commonly in the plural.
  • noun Symmetrical arrangement, distribution, or adjustment; the proper relation of parts in a whole; symmetry or harmony.
  • noun That which falls to one's lot when a whole is divided according to a rule or principle; just or proper share; in general, portion; lot.
  • noun Form; shape; figure.
  • noun In mathematics, the equality of ratios or relations; analogy.
  • noun In music: The ratio between the vibration-numbers of two tones.
  • noun Same as rhythm or meter.
  • noun In arithmetic, the rule of three; that rule which, according to the theory of proportion, enables us to find a fourth proportional to three given numbers — that is, a number to which the third bears the same ratio as the first does to the second.
  • noun See mixed.
  • noun Synonyms See symmetry.
  • To adjust in suitable relations; adapt harmoniously to something else as regards dimensions or extent: as, to proportion the size of a building to its height, or the thickness of a thing to its length; to proportion expenditure to income.
  • To form with symmetry; give a symmetrical form to.
  • To bear proportion or adequate relation to; correspond to.
  • To divide into portions; allot; apportion.
  • To compare; estimate the relative proportions of.
  • In type-manuf., to adjust (a font of type) so that it shall contain the proper number of each letter, point, etc.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The relation or adaptation of one portion to another, or to the whole, as respect magnitude, quantity, or degree; comparative relation; ratio.
  • noun Harmonic relation between parts, or between different things of the same kind; symmetrical arrangement or adjustment; symmetry.
  • noun The portion one receives when a whole is distributed by a rule or principle; equal or proper share; lot.
  • noun A part considered comparatively; a share.
  • noun The equality or similarity of ratios, especially of geometrical ratios; or a relation among quantities such that the quotient of the first divided by the second is equal to that of the third divided by the fourth; -- called also geometrical proportion, in distinction from arithmetical proportion, or that in which the difference of the first and second is equal to the difference of the third and fourth.
  • noun The rule of three, in arithmetic, in which the three given terms, together with the one sought, are proportional.
  • noun See under Continued, Inverse, etc.
  • noun a relation of three or four quantities, such that the first is to the last as the difference between the first two is to the difference between the last two; thus, 2, 3, 6, are in harmonical proportion; for 2 is to 6 as 1 to 3. Thus, 24, 16, 12, 9, are harmonical, for 24:9::8:3.
  • noun according as; to the degree that.
  • transitive verb To adjust in a suitable proportion, as one thing or one part to another
  • transitive verb To form with symmetry or suitableness, as the parts of the body.
  • transitive verb To divide into equal or just shares; to apportion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun countable A quantity of something that is part of the whole amount or number.
  • noun uncountable Harmonious relation of parts to each other or to the whole.
  • noun countable Proper or equal share.
  • noun uncountable The relation of one part to another or to the whole with respect to magnitude, quantity, or degree.
  • noun mathematics, countable A statement of equality between two ratios.
  • noun countable size
  • verb art To set or render in proportion.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the quotient obtained when the magnitude of a part is divided by the magnitude of the whole
  • noun harmonious arrangement or relation of parts or elements within a whole (as in a design)
  • noun the relation between things (or parts of things) with respect to their comparative quantity, magnitude, or degree


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English proporcion, from Old French proportion, from Latin prōportiō, prōportiōn-, from prō portiōne, according to (each) part : prō, according to; see pro– + portiōne, ablative of portiō, part; see perə- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English proporcion, from Old French proportion, from Latin proportio ("comparative relation, proportion, symmetry, analogy"), from pro ("for, before") + portio ("share, part"); see portion.


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  • Miss Bart was discerning enough to know that the inner vanity is generally in proportion to the outer self-depreciation.

    -Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth

    July 26, 2009