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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web But Fishbein said state law required licensure for a lawyer to even portray herself as a general counsel. Mark Pazniokas, Hartford Courant, 26 Apr. 2022 Now, with sanctions from all over the world slamming Russia's economy, Beijing has refused to condemn the invasion, seeking to portray itself as a neutral actor and blaming the situation on the United States. Julia Horowitz, CNN, 25 Apr. 2022 Wednesday’s debate will be the last major opportunity for Le Pen, 53, to portray herself as more moderate and presidential than five years ago. Washington Post, 20 Apr. 2022 The soft-on-crime narrative presented during Jackson's confirmation hearings is likely to be one prong in Republicans' broader campaign to portray themselves to voters as the party that can reduce crime. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, 14 Apr. 2022 Now, in proposing another massive budget, Biden is trying to portray himself as some sort of legendary fiscal hawk. Philip Klein, National Review, 31 Mar. 2022 Most coverage of prosthetic penises tends to portray them as progressive for purportedly providing a visual balance to female nudity and feminist for making actresses more comfortable on set. Peter Lehman, Chron, 18 Mar. 2022 The inventor of the patented gas mask and traffic signal Garrett A. Morgan hired White actors as stand-ins to portray him while demonstrating his patented traffic signal and other inventions at trade shows. Eric S. Hintz, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Mar. 2022 Hudson was chosen by Franklin to portray her in the bio-pic. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, 9 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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

10 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Portray.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portray. Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for portray


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on portray

Nglish: Translation of portray for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of portray for Arabic Speakers


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