por·tray | \ pȯr-ˈtrā , 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

Both McGahn and Kavanaugh also sought to portray the judge's lengthy record – including more than 300 opinions, roughly a dozen of which were affirmed by the Supreme Court – as a benefit rather than a potential stumbling block. Author: Ashley Parker, Robert Costa, Anchorage Daily News, "‘All a little misdirection’: Inside Trump’s sometimes-wavering decision to nominate Kavanaugh," 11 July 2018 Since then, Ganim, the mayor of the state’s largest city, Bridgeport, has sought to portray Lamont as an out-of-touch plutocrat who doesn’t understand the plight of middle and low-income residents. Neil Vigdor, courant.com, "Ned Lamont And Joe Ganim On A Collision Course Toward First Head-To-Head Debate," 11 July 2018 Both McGahn and Kavanaugh also sought to portray the judge's lengthy record — including more than 300 opinions, roughly a dozen of which were affirmed by the Supreme Court — as a benefit rather than a potential stumbling block. Ashley Parker And Robert Costa, chicagotribune.com, "Inside Trump's sometimes wavering decision on Brett Kavanaugh," 11 July 2018 Her lawyers sought to portray Zschaepe as naive woman who played no active role in the killings, bomb attacks and bank robberies committed by Mundlos and Boehnhardt. Fox News, "Courts finds suspect in neo-Nazi trial guilty of 10 killings," 11 July 2018 Valdez's campaign has sought to portray Abbott as a big money insider who does not care about average Texans, a theme that the Abbott campaign has countered by labeling her as a left-leaning liberal who is out of touch with most Texans' values. Houston Chronicle, "Records: Lupe Valdez pays overdue property taxes," 2 July 2018 Trump and his aides have sought to portray Foxconn as the poster child for Trump’s America First economic policies while dismissing the move by Harley-Davidson as an aberration. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "Trump's trade war comes to Wisconsin," 30 June 2018 Defense lawyers Gabe Ermine and Tamara Curtis sought to portray the confrontation as an extension of a fight that had taken place a month earlier involving Baptista and another man, who did not testify Friday. Rafael Olmeda, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Suspect in Miramar manslaughter argues self defense," 22 June 2018 Though his remarks did not mention U.S. President Donald Trump, Beijing has sought to portray itself as a defender of free trade in response to the American leader’s support for import controls. Dake Kang, The Seattle Times, "Xi extolls free trade at Asia meet as G-7 ends in disarray," 10 June 2018

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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Statistics for portray

Last Updated

13 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for portray

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

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More Definitions for portray



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 \
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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Comments on portray

What made you want to look up portray? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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