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

Aptly, these same two actors also portray Oberon, the King of the Fairies, and Titania, the Queen of the Fairies. Mike Giuliano, Howard County Times, "A Midsummer Night in Ellicott City," 28 June 2018 In the short video from the Murphy Brown reboot, Miles Silverberg (portrayed by Grant Shaud) is listing off all that he's been up to since being the FYI producer — one of the things included a gig at The View. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'The View' Hosts Called Out Candice Bergen Over a 'Murphy Brown' Joke and Things Got Awkward," 21 Nov. 2018 The campaign images accompanying the launch portray the naked bodies of other women (not just the dimension-defying curves Kardashian herself), showing off their stretch marks, cellulite, and rolls. Zoe Weiner, Allure, "Kim Kardashian Is Launching Two Brand-New KKW Body Fragrances," 1 Nov. 2018 Fugard, who is white, portrayed that role himself in the 1961 premiere in South Africa; a defiant statement in the apartheid era, when a black man and white man had not performed together on stage before. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "American Players Theatre's casting of a white actor as a black man in 'Blood Knot' stirs controversy," 22 June 2018 Never has an actor better and more convincingly portrayed an athlete. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Paul Daugherty: What's on your bucket list, Cincinnati sports fans?," 14 June 2018 The evening event will be at the museum at 99 Summer St. Re-enactors will portray Chauncy Jerome, Albert Rockwell and Helen Welch Atkins-McKay, three prominent figures from Bristol's past. Courant Community, "'Bristol History 101' Offers A Glimpse At Bristol's Past," 12 June 2018 Paddle the Mississippi like Huck Finn, get lost in the woods like Brian from 'Hatchet,' and wander the desert like Edward Abbey Certain works of pop culture have a magic way of portraying the wilderness. Megan Michelson, Outside Online, "Live the Adventures from Your Favorite Books and Movies," 6 June 2018 The Manolo Blahnik-loving character is back in a Super Bowl ad alongside Jeff Bridges (who took his jellies out of retirement to portray The Dude from The Big Lebowski). Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Watch Sarah Jessica Parker Revive Carrie Bradshaw in Stella's Epic Super Bowl Ad," 3 Feb. 2019

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

15 Mar 2019

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 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with portray

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for portray

Spanish Central: Translation of portray

Nglish: Translation of portray for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of portray for Arabic Speakers

Comments on portray

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a flaw that causes the downfall of a hero

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