por·​tray | \ pȯr-ˈtrā How to pronounce portray (audio) , pər- \
portrayed; portraying; portrays

Definition of portray

transitive verb

1 : to make a picture of : depict
2a : to describe in words
b : to play the role of : enact

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Other Words from portray

portrayer noun

Examples of portray in a Sentence

The White House has portrayed the President as deeply conflicted over the matter. The lawyer portrayed his client as a victim of child abuse. He portrayed himself as a victim. The painting portrays the queen in a purple robe. Laurence Olivier portrayed Hamlet beautifully.
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Recent Examples on the Web Ethan Peck will reprise his role as Spock, the Vulcan science officer originally portrayed by Leonard Nimoy from the 1960s. Kate Cox, Ars Technica, "Star Trek will go to Strange New Worlds in new spinoff series," 15 May 2020 The three, currently portrayed by Ethan Peck, Anson Mount, and Rebecca Romijn, were introduced on Star Trek: Discovery during its last season. Radhika Marya, Fortune, "Another ‘Star Trek’ series is coming to CBS All Access," 15 May 2020 Batman has previously been portrayed by George Clooney, Ben Affleck, Michael Keaton and Christian Bale. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, "Robert Pattinson jokes about cooking amid coronavirus isolation, talks 'Batman' and 'Twilight'," 12 May 2020 Both brothers are portrayed by the endlessly talented Ruffalo, who lost 20 pounds to play Dominick and gained 30 pounds to play Thomas. Gina Vaynshteyn, refinery29.com, "Truth & Real Tragedy Went Into The Making Of HBO’s I Know This Much Is True," 12 May 2020 The film stars Elisabeth Moss as Cecilia Kass, who is trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist portrayed by Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Haunting of Hill House). Clark Collis, EW.com, "Watch a deleted scene from The Invisible Man," 11 May 2020 Sophie, portrayed by Amanda Seyfried, is about to get married in Greece, where her mom Donna (Meryl Streep) is a hotelier, but Sophie can’t stand the idea of walking down the aisle alone. Serena Tara, Marie Claire, "The Best Summer Movies of All Time," 5 May 2020 Tadzio is portrayed not by a singer, but by a dancer, a wordless, toneless ideal. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "Set in a gathering epidemic, Britten’s ‘Death in Venice’ is newly timely," 15 Apr. 2020 Lovell was portrayed by Tom Hanks and Swigert by Kevin Bacon. Fox News, "On this day 50 years ago, Apollo 13 blasted off on its dramatic, ill-fated mission," 12 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'portray.' 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 portray

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for portray

Middle English portraien, from Anglo-French purtraire, from Latin protrahere to draw forth, reveal, expose — more at protract

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Time Traveler for portray

Time Traveler

The first known use of portray was in the 14th century

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Statistics for portray

Last Updated

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Portray.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portray. Accessed 1 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for portray


How to pronounce portray (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of portray

: to describe (someone or something) in a particular way
: to show (someone or something) in a painting, book, etc.
: to play (a character) in a film, play, or television show


por·​tray | \ pȯr-ˈtrā How to pronounce portray (audio) \
portrayed; portraying

Kids Definition of portray

1 : to make a portrait of The artist portrayed the young queen.
2 : to describe in words or words and images The story portrays frontier life.
3 : to play the role of He portrays the hero in a movie.

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More from Merriam-Webster on portray

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for portray

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with portray

Spanish Central: Translation of portray

Nglish: Translation of portray for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of portray for Arabic Speakers

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