I'm looking for a word to replace "percentage" for numbers between 0 and 1.

To explain: what I'm actually dealing with are decimals (like 0.12), semantically however they serve the purpose of percentages (the equivalent here being 12%, obviously).

So my number between 0 and 1 is not a percentage but a _______. Any ideas?

This question is similar, but has a different focus; it allows for multiple words, whereas mine needs a single word.

closed as off-topic by Frank, Edwin Ashworth, tchrist, Brian Hooper, Drew Jan 8 '15 at 3:29

  • This question does not appear to be about English language and usage within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
  • 3
    proportion is one commonly used term for this (as one of the answers to the linked question points out.). If they represent probabilities, use that. – Alan Munn Jan 5 '15 at 15:24
  • 2
    @EFrog: If you name it percent, don't come complaining if I jam a value of 27.5 in your variable and break your code. In good programming, you give your variables a meaningful name. – oerkelens Jan 5 '15 at 15:31
  • 3
    @EFrog: if, as the OP states, a value of 0.12 represents 12%, then percent is a terrible name for your variable. If the value 12 would represent 12%, it would be very meaningful. And naming variables anything you feel like just because you can is a terrible idea and the most common reason why programmers want to kill their predecessors. – oerkelens Jan 5 '15 at 15:38
  • 2
    @EFrog So if on a website that you have to fill out, titled, for example, “Density (in percent)”, you would write “0.12” and expect that to mean a density of 12%? That may make sense to a mathematician, but it makes no sense to me. If a variable named percent or percentage is 0.12, the natural assumption is that it represents 0.12%, or 0.0012. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 5 '15 at 15:51

Numbers between 0 and 1 are fractions, and fractions expressed as a decimal are decimal fractions.

decimal fraction

a fraction (as .25 = 25100 or .025 = 251000) or mixed number (as 3.025 = 3251000) in which the denominator is a power of 10 usually expressed by use of the decimal point.


  • 4
    Ratio might also be appropriate. – Kit Z. Fox Jan 5 '15 at 15:14
  • 1
    @KitFox: with ratio my first question is of what to what? It seems in this case, the answer is always something to one. It is a ratio, but not very meaningful... – oerkelens Jan 5 '15 at 15:33
  • 2
    As fractions may be proper (numerator less than denominator) or improper, it may be helpful to qualify the numbers between 0 and 1 as proper fractions. The improper fraction 7/3 is by definition a fraction; however, it is not between 0 and 1. – rajah9 Jan 5 '15 at 17:23
  • Nice answer but two words ... – Araucaria Jan 6 '15 at 1:47

From a pure linguistics perspective, the answer is "percent".

In mathematics, a percentage is a number or ratio expressed as a fraction of 100. [wikipedia]

0.12 and 12% are as equivalent, as 0.1234 and 12.34% are. If the numbers you are expressing are proportional then percent is as valid as anything else.

Off-topic answer:

However, you question wasn't about linguistics, it was about naming variables in which case percent/ration/unit are all terrible variable names. When naming variables, succinctness is of far less importance than readability. Variable names can be minimised or optimised by the complier, as a programmer your role is writing human readable code first, and machine readable code second.

As a programmer, the variable name should have some better context than a unitless proportion, so re-evaluate what you are storing, determine what the actual value means, and try again (probably on Programmers.SE).

  • So, to summarize, what would you recommend to name a variable? – Ivan Balashov May 28 '17 at 12:44

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.