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Definition of proportion


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

NOUN:
  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 .
TRANSITIVE VERB:
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.

ETYMOLOGY:
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

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

SYNONYMS:
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).


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