Imagine the next situation, I am talking with a friend about this article: Haiti: photojournalist shot in face as senator opens fire outside parliament ...:

Friend: Ehh, Did you read this one?

Me: Ahh yes, I read it this morning.

Me: I think his reaction was disproportionate, he could has handled the situation in a better way ...

Disproportionate means:

too large or too small in comparison to something else, or not deserving its importance or influence

  • There are a disproportionate number of girls in the class.
  • The country's great influence in the world is disproportionate to its relatively small size.

Source: Cambridge Dictionary

I am using disproportionate to refer an action of him, I am not talking about: shapes, numbers (for example: ehh look that team is disproportionate, it has the double of players than the others), ...

So, as I asked: Is "disproportionate" word correct in this context?

  • 2
    I don't understand the point of your question and the text you cite.
    – Lambie
    Sep 24, 2019 at 21:35
  • 3
    @Lambie It's not useful to leave such vague comments. The question is fine and understandable, and is asking about the usage of a word (disproportionate) in a sentence (I think his reaction was disproportionate).
    – user3395
    Sep 24, 2019 at 21:48
  • All answers were really helpful, they opened my mind a little more in a way that I saw english language as rigid, but... your comments helped me to see it less rigid now. I will explain this, I tried to communicate an idea perfectly (choosing the perfect words) but I see now that I can communicate an idea in many ways (I have many word choices). Sep 26, 2019 at 1:53

3 Answers 3


It's fine, although I think you need to better define what reaction was disproportionate, and how it was disproportionate. For example:

Drawing a handgun and firing randomly into the crowd seems like a disproportionate response to the level of threat. It doesn't seem like he was in any real danger.

Also I think you mean to say "handled", not "lead".

I think the senator could have handled the situation in a better way.

  • I fixed it. Yes, "handled" sounds much better. Sep 25, 2019 at 21:27

I think that’s a good choice, especially noting that the senator remarked

“Armed individuals threatened me. It was proportional. Equal force, equal response.”

You could say it’s a bit of wordplay.

However, as the entry shows, you can/should use to to indicate what it’s relative to. For example,

I think his reaction was disproportionate to the alleged threat.

I would say that “disproportionate” is a tad on the formal side. If you want an common, slightly less formal word, consider overreact:

  • overreact
    : to react to something too strongly : to respond to something with too strong an emotion or with unnecessary or excessive action
    // I was furious and yelled at him. He told me I was overreacting and to "chillax."
    — Ben Stein

  • overreact
    Respond more emotionally or forcibly than is justified.
    ‘the Authority are urging people not to overreact to the problem’


I think he overreacted. He could have handled it better.

  • 1
    There's no general indication to add to after the word, unless the context requires it. His response was disproportionate. is perfectly sufficient, unless one wants to say more. Sep 24, 2019 at 21:01

I don't feel like disproportionate is the best choice here. How about uncalled-for:

his reaction was uncalled-for, he could has lead the situation in a better way

Also, I'm thinking of excessive, but I'm not sure if it fits the context.

  • 1
    Both the words you suggest mean different things. You have to explain why disproportionate doesn't work. (–1)
    – user3395
    Sep 24, 2019 at 21:54

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