Skip to search.

Definition of proportion

World Factbook

Search Dictionary:

Houghton Mifflin

pro·por·tion  audio  (pr-pôrshn, -pr-) KEY 

  1. A part considered in relation to the whole.
  2. A relationship between things or parts of things with respect to comparative magnitude, quantity, or degree: the proper proportion between oil and vinegar in the dressing.
  3. A relationship between quantities such that if one varies then another varies in a manner dependent on the first: "We do not always find visible happiness in proportion to visible virtue" (Samuel Johnson).
  4. Agreeable or harmonious relation of parts within a whole; balance or symmetry.
  5. Dimensions; size. Often used in the plural.
  6. 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 .
pro·por·tioned, pro·por·tion·ing, pro·por·tions
  1. To adjust so that proper relations between parts are attained.
  2. To form the parts of with balance or symmetry.

Middle English proporcion, from Old French proportion, from Latin prporti, prportin-, from pr portine, according to (each) part : pr, according to ; see pro-1 + portine, ablative of porti, part; see per-2 in Indo-European roots

pro·portion·a·ble(Adjective), pro·portion·a·bly(Adverb), pro·portion·er(Noun), pro·portion·ment(Noun)

proportion, harmony, symmetry, balance

These nouns mean aesthetic arrangement marked by proper distribution of elements. Proportion is the agreeable relation of parts within a whole: a house with rooms of gracious proportion. Harmony is the pleasing interaction or appropriate combination of elements: the harmony of your facial features. Symmetry and balance both imply an arrangement of parts on either side of a dividing line, but symmetry frequently emphasizes mirror-image correspondence of parts, while balance often suggests dissimilar parts that offset each other harmoniously: flowers planted in perfect symmetry around the pool. "In all perfectly beautiful objects, there is found the opposition of one part to another, and a reciprocal balance" (John Ruskin).

Visit our partner's site
Provided by Houghton Mifflin
logoeReference -- Download this interactive reference software to your desktop computer