Apportion vs. Portion vs. Proportion: What's the Difference?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on October 21, 2022

Apportion, portion, and proportion all sound similar, and they also share similar meanings. What does each one mean? We’ll discuss that and more in this article.

The short answer is that ‘apportion’ means ‘to divide.’

‘Portion’ means ‘a share of something.’

‘Proportion’ means the ‘harmonious relation of parts to each other or to the whole.’

What is the Difference Between ‘Apportion,’ ‘Portion,’ and ‘Proportion’

The words 'apportion,' 'portion,' and 'proportion,' fall under the category of commonly confused English words. As stated above, each of these words has a slightly definition.

Let’s dive a little deeper into what each word means.


Merriam-Webster defines ‘apportion’ the noun as: “to divide and share out according to a plan (especially: to make a proportionate division or distribution of).”

Synonyms for Apportion 

The word ‘apportion’ has several synonyms, which include:

  • Assign
  • Allow
  • Allocate
  • Ration
  • Allot
  • Distribute
  • Lot

Portion as a Noun

Merriam-Webster defines ‘portion’ as: “an individual’s part or share of something: such as a share received by gift or inheritance, dowry, enough food especially of one kind to serve one person at one meal)” or “an individual’s lot, fate, or fortune: one’s share of good and evil.”

Portion as a Verb

‘Portion’ as a verb is defined as: “to divide into portions: distribute” or “to allot a dowry to dower.”

Synonyms for Portion

The word ‘portion’ has several synonyms, which include:


  • Fortune (noun)
  • Circumstance (noun)
  • Destiny
  • Fate
  • Doom
  • Lot


  • Administer
  • Dispense
  • Dole out
  • Hand out
  • Deal out

Proportion as a Noun

The definition of ‘proportion’ is: “harmonious relation of parts to each other or to the whole: balance, symmetry” or “a proper or equal share,” according to Merriam-Webster.

Proportion as a Verb

The definition of the verb ‘proportion’ is: “to adjust (a part or thing) in size relative to other parts or things” and “to make the parts harmonious or symmetrical.”

Synonyms for Proportion

The word ‘proportion’ has a few synonyms, which include:


  • Balance
  • Harmony
  • Coherence
  • Unity
  • Symphony
  • Symmetry
  • Orchestration

Using 'Apportion,' 'Portion,' and 'Proportion' in a Sentence

It might be tricky learning how to use these words in a sentence when their definitions are so similar, similar to words like vagabond and podium. But these examples can help guide you as you work on your own sentence.


  • I’m going to apportion all these cupcakes to the students now.
  • We have to apportion the medication to the residents at the correct time.
  • We have to apportion up this candy evenly and fairly.


  • I’m so unlucky; that’s just my portion in life. (noun)
  • I always knew I’d be successful; it’s my portion. (noun)
  • A portion of the proceeds will go to a charity organization. (noun)
  • Let’s portion these out evenly; we don’t want any complaints. (verb)
  • The factory has to portion and pack over 10,000 units each day. (verb)
  • Grandma had to portion out her land among all of her grandchildren. (verb)


  • Maddy drew a teddy bear, but the ears were not in proportion to the head. (noun)
  • You were given prizes in direct proportion to your behavior this school year. (noun)
  • Don’t blow things out of proportion. (noun)
  • Don’t proportion those napkins like that; they should be closer to the silverware. (verb)

Final Thoughts on ‘Apportion,’ ‘Portion, and ‘Proportion’

While the words 'apportion,' 'portion,' and 'proportion,' might have slightly different definitions, they’re not used in exactly the same ways, as illustrated above.

If you find it difficult to differentiate between confusing words, such as unto and weather, check out our collection of articles about confusing words.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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