American English

Definition of proportion noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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    part of whole
  1. 1[countable] a part or share of a whole Water covers a large proportion of the earth's surface. Loam is a soil with roughly equal proportions of clay, sand, and silt. The proportion of regular smokers increases with age. An exceptionally high proportion of young people now enter college after graduating from high school.
  2. relationship
  3. 2[uncountable] proportion (of something to something) the relationship of one thing to another in size, amount, etc. synonym ratio The proportion of men to women in the college has changed dramatically over the years. The basic ingredients are limestone and clay in the proportion 2:1. The room is very long in proportion to (= relative to) its width.
  4. 3[uncountable, countable, usually plural] the correct relationship in size, degree, importance, etc. between one thing and another or between the parts of a whole You haven't drawn the figures in the foreground in proportion. The head is out of proportion with the body. an impressive building with fine proportions Always try to keep a sense of proportion (= a sense of the relative importance of different things).
  5. size/shape
  6. 4proportions [plural] the measurements of something; its size and shape This method divides the task into more manageable proportions. a food shortage that could soon reach crisis proportions a room of fairly generous proportions
  7. mathematics
  8. 5[uncountable] the equal relationship between two pairs of numbers, as in the statement “4 is to 8 as 6 is to 12”
  9. Idioms
    keep something in proportion
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    to react to something in a sensible way and not think it is worse or more serious than it really is The problem of bullying should be kept in proportion. Only a small number of young people act in this way.
    out of (all) proportion (to something)
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    larger, more serious, etc. in relation to something than is necessary or appropriate They earn salaries out of all proportion to their ability. The media has blown the incident up out of all proportion.
GrammarproportionIf proportion is used with an uncountable or a singular noun, the verb is generally singular:A proportion of the land is used for agriculture.If the proportion of is used with a plural countable noun, or a singular noun that represents a group of people, the verb is usually singular, but with a (large, small, etc.) proportion of, a plural verb is often used:The proportion of small cars on America’s roads is increasing. A high proportion of five-year-olds have teeth in poor condition. Language Bankproportiondescribing fractions and proportions According to this pie chart, a third of students' leisure time is spent watching TV. One in five hours is spent socializing. Socializing accounts for/makes up/comprises about 20% of leisure time. Students spend twice as much time playing computer games as playing sports. Three times as many hours are spent playing computer games as reading. The figure for playing computer games is three times higher than the figure for reading. The largest proportion of time is spent playing computer games.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: proportion