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

At the New York City premiere for Long Shot, Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen portrayed a couple falling in love in a hopeless place: the political minefield of Washington, D.C. Vogue, "Chrissy Teigen and Darren Criss Rocked and Rolled at the 2019 City Harvest Gala," 2 May 2019 Sansa isn't the only badass woman that Sophie portrays. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Who is Sophie Turner, Joe Jonas' New Wife?," 2 May 2019 Zac Efron—former High School Musical heartthrob—is portraying a serial killer, and people are eagerly awaiting his performance. Maude Campbell, Popular Mechanics, "The Time of True Crime," 26 Apr. 2019 The move to extract one of the world’s most high-profile fugitives came about relatively quickly after years of what officials portrayed as obnoxious and ungracious behavior by their houseguest. Joshua Goodman, The Seattle Times, "After 7 long years, Assange’s capture happened quickly," 16 Apr. 2019 This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Bob Fosse's indiscretions portrayed in the episode, which premiered last night. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Fosse/Verdon Proves It's Time to Cancel the Fragile Male Ego," 10 Apr. 2019 In the Vulture interview, Kristy takes specific issue with the character of Lacey, who is meant to portray Aleah Woodmansee, Gypsy’s friend and neighbor. Alexis Jones, Marie Claire, "What Gypsy Rose Blanchard's Stepmom Says Hulu's "The Act" Got Wrong," 4 Apr. 2019 In the first episode alone, the show portrayed or alluded to substance abuse, addiction, self-harm, emotional abuse, illness, depression, trauma, murder, and death—all topics that deserve to be treated sensitively. Emily Wang, SELF, "Every Episode of HBO's 'Sharp Objects' Will End With a PSA About Substance Abuse and Self-Harm," 11 July 2018 Notably, Mill wore a black sweatshirt appearing to portray the faces of controversial rapper XXXTentacion and Jimmy Wopo, both of whom were killed by gun violence within hours of each other last week. Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard, "Meek Mill Debuts New Song 'Stay Woke' While Wearing XXXTentacion Shirt at the 2018 BET Awards," 24 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

10 May 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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using a distributed computer network

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