Meaning of “proportion” in the English Dictionary

"proportion" in British English

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proportionnoun

uk /prəˈpɔː.ʃən/ us /prəˈpɔːr.ʃən/

proportion noun (AMOUNT)

C1 [ C, + sing/pl verb ] the number or amount of a group or part of something when compared to the whole:

Children make up a large proportion of the world's population.
A higher proportion of men are willing to share household responsibilities than used to be the case.
The report shows that poor families spend a larger proportion of their income on food.

C2 [ S or U ] the number, amount, or level of one thing when compared to another:

The proportion of women to men at my college was about five to one.
The chart shows how weight increases in proportion to height (= the increase in weight depends on the increase in height).
The level of crime in an area is almost always in direct proportion to the number of unemployed.

More examples

  • What proportion of people who are HIV-positive go on to develop AIDS?
  • As people accumulate more wealth, they tend to spend a greater proportion of their incomes.
  • Their generosity was in inverse proportion to their income .
  • He might be small but he's perfectly in proportion.
  • Hispanics make up a large proportion of the population of Miami.

proportion noun (SIZE)

C2 [ C or U ] the correct or most attractive relationship between the size of different parts of the same thing or between one thing and another:

Your legs are very much in proportion to (= the right size for) the rest of your body.
His feet seem very small in proportion to his body.
My head was much nearer the camera than the rest of me so I'm all out of proportion.
proportions [ plural ]

the size, shape, or level of something:

a building of elegant proportions
I'm not very good at drawing people - I can never get the proportions right.
humorous She's a woman of generous proportions (= she is fat).
A small worry in the back of your mind can for no apparent reason assume/take on massive proportions in the middle of the night.

(Definition of “proportion” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"proportion" in American English

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proportionnoun [ C/U ]

us /prəˈpɔr·ʃən/

a part or share of the whole, or the relationship between one thing and another in size, amount, or degree:

[ C ] The proportion of the population that is over 65 has been growing.
[ pl ] The occurrence of the disease has reached epidemic proportions.

Proportion is also the right relationship between one thing and another:

[ U ] His anger was out of all proportion to the offense (= was much too strong).

art Proportion is also the correct relationship of the parts of a work of art to each other, especially in their size.

mathematics A proportion is also a equation (= mathematical statement) that shows two ratios (= comparisons) are equal.

(Definition of “proportion” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"proportion" in Business English

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proportionnoun

uk /prəˈpɔːʃən/ us

[ C ] the number or amount of part of something when compared to the whole:

boost/increase the proportion of sth He pledged to boost the group's proportion of home sales from 5% to 10%.
as a proportion of sth Last year, public spending as a proportion of GDP sank to its lowest since the mid-1960s.
It will take a few years before one will be able to observe equal proportions of men and women in sales management.
a high/large/significant proportion
a low/small proportion

[ S or U ] the number, amount, or level of one thing when compared to another:

the proportion of sth to sth The proportion of international sales to net sales will continue to affect the company's operating results.
Existing shareholders are allowed to buy new shares in proportion to their holdings.
in direct proportion to sth

used to say that two things are connected, so that an increase in one is directly related to an increase in the other:

The level of crime in an area is almost always in direct proportion to the number of unemployed.
proportions [ plural ]

the size, shape, or level of something:

A fund that grows to massive proportions must adapt its investment strategy.
The pensions underfunding problem is reaching crisis proportions.

(Definition of “proportion” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)