por·​trait | \ ˈpȯr-trət How to pronounce portrait (audio) , -ˌtrāt \

Definition of portrait

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : picture especially : a pictorial representation of a person usually showing the face
2 : a sculptured figure : bust
3 : a graphic portrayal in words



Definition of portrait (Entry 2 of 2)

: of, relating to, or being a rectangular document having the vertical dimension longer than the horizontal dimension switching from landscape to portrait mode — compare landscape sense 3

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Examples of portrait in a Sentence

Noun The queen posed for her portrait. The book presents a portrait of life in a small town.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Camondo’s daughter, Béatrice, was given Renoir’s portrait of her mother as a wedding gift. The Economist, "The tragedy of Jewish art collectors in pre-war Paris," 10 Apr. 2021 Epplin’s most colorful portrait, however, is of Veeck. Washington Post, "In Cleveland, four men helped bring baseball into the modern age," 9 Apr. 2021 It’s sold as a collectors edition as well as deluxe, with the latter including a portrait of Joplin autographed by Slick. Angie Martoccio, Rolling Stone, "Inside Janis Joplin’s Scrapbook ‘Days & Summers’," 9 Apr. 2021 Gainsborough painted Pitt in 1769 and may have encouraged Kammel to similarly commission a portrait, per the East Anglian. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, "Newly Discovered Gainsborough Portrait Reveals Likeness of Overlooked Composer," 8 Apr. 2021 Three years later, a new portrait captures him in a natty suit buttoned high up on his chest, his hair short and carefully parted. oregonlive, "Astoria exhibit reveals cruel ‘hidden history’: boarding schools’ role in attempts to ‘civilize’ Native American children," 8 Apr. 2021 Picasso’s Stein may be Mesopotamian mountain; Neel is the allness of a knowing Buddha, a portrait of spirit and body as cosmos. Jerry Saltz, Vulture, "The Detonations of Alice Neel," 6 Apr. 2021 That’s the price of the most expensive painting to sell at auction so far this year, a rare portrait by Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli titled Young Man Holding a Roundel. Carlie Porterfield, Forbes, "A $55 Million Picasso Painting Could Signal The Art Market Is Bouncing Back," 6 Apr. 2021 Yesterday, the royal shared a sweet portrait featuring herself; her husband, Jack Brooksbank; and their new baby, August Philip Hawke Brooksbank. Bianca Betancourt, Harper's BAZAAR, "Princess Eugenie Shares a Gorgeous Family Portrait with Baby August for Spring," 6 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The small park behind Tahrir Square has been divided by tents, one of which has become a steadily expanding portrait gallery with photographs of those who have been killed by the security forces. Alissa J. Rubin, New York Times, "In Iraq, Where Beauty Was Long Suppressed, Art Flowers Amid Protests," 3 Feb. 2020 Yet for all the darkness, there’s a welcome and important dose of levity too, from a hilarious video of a beauty products fair by María Luisa Bemberg to Regina Vater’s playful, costumed self-portrait photographs. New York Times, "The Art of Staying Cool: 10 Can’t-Miss Summer Shows in New York," 4 July 2018 Arneson sets the tone through a ceramic self-portrait head from 1973, wall-mounted near the entry. Leah Ollman, latimes.com, "This Candy Store wasn't a candy store: Remembering a California gallery that made art stars," 3 July 2018 In portrait orientation, the left side of the bottom bar only has space for about three to four app icons. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Acer Chromebook Tab 10 review: Chrome OS revives Google’s tablet future," 23 June 2018 And even though the demand for photographers in traditional media has declined, there’s still a high-demand for commercial and portrait photographers. Jenny Knizner, USA TODAY, "20 In-Demand Freelance Skills That’ll Get You Hired Today," 4 June 2018 Dorothea Tanning’s self-portrait Birthday (1942) shows her bare-breasted, standing with a small winged monster with her back to a house full of open doors. Thomas Hine, Philly.com, "Art Museum show gives American Modernists - and Philly ones - new respect," 12 Apr. 2018 The heads presage a self-portrait print from 1990, displayed nearby, as well as the soft fabric figurative sculptures that Bourgeois took up in the late ’90s. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "Louise Bourgeois: Imagination Unfolds in All Dimensions," 27 Sep. 2017 Portrait sessions for families whose memories were stolen by the wind. Southern Living, "What Stands in a Storm, Part III: Fellowship," 1 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'portrait.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of portrait


1570, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1975, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for portrait


Middle French, from past participle of portraire

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Time Traveler for portrait

Time Traveler

The first known use of portrait was in 1570

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Statistics for portrait

Last Updated

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Portrait.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portrait. Accessed 16 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for portrait



English Language Learners Definition of portrait

: a painting, drawing, or photograph of a person that usually only includes the person's head and shoulders
: a detailed description of something or someone
: a way of printing a page so that the shorter sides are on the top and bottom and the longer sides are on the left and right


por·​trait | \ ˈpȯr-trət How to pronounce portrait (audio) , -ˌtrāt \

Kids Definition of portrait

: a picture of a person usually showing the face

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