por·​tray·​al | \pȯr-ˈtrā(-ə)l, pər-\

Definition of portrayal 

1 : the act or process or an instance of portraying : representation

2 : portrait

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Examples of portrayal in a Sentence

his novel presents a moving portrayal of a woman searching for personal fulfillment and happiness

Recent Examples on the Web

Ruth Gordon, who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Minnie Castevet, the witch next door, is a busybody who controls Rosemary with homemade elixirs and sweets. Rich Cohen, WSJ, "‘Rosemary’s Baby’ 50 Years Later," 23 May 2018 Even though Emily stabbed her in the shoulder and kicked her down a flight of stairs in Season 2's finale, surely this is not the end for Ann Dowd's fearsome (and Emmy-winning) portrayal of the matronly enforcer Aunt Lydia. Hank Stuever, chicagotribune.com, "We survived another grueling season of 'The Handmaid's Tale,' but here are 3 things we need from Season 3," 12 July 2018 There was particular praise for lead actor Freddie Highmore's thoughtful portrayal of Shaun Murphy, the savant surgical resident with autism. Temi Adebowale, Country Living, "How Freddie Highmore Went From Child Actor to Star of 'The Good Doctor'," 11 July 2018 But those portrayals can also have a real impact on viewers' mental health, especially for anyone who may dealing with the on-screen issues IRL. Emily Wang, SELF, "Every Episode of HBO's 'Sharp Objects' Will End With a PSA About Substance Abuse and Self-Harm," 11 July 2018 In the most traditional format and shown in most on-screen portrayals of the event, homecoming resembles a dance much like prom...but more like a baby prom. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "What is Homecoming?," 9 July 2018 The new feature film Chappaquiddick, which opened in theaters on April 6, is one among several onscreen Kennedy portrayals that are most interested in what made the enduring myth possible. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "The Kennedy family built up a public mythology. TV and movies are taking it apart.," 9 Apr. 2018 Maybe voters are tired of his big HBO real-life portrayals, including Phil Spector and Jack Kervorkian? Matthew Gilbert, BostonGlobe.com, "Emmy nominations: surprises, savvy picks, and a few slights," 12 July 2018 The critically acclaimed film is notable in woman-loving-woman history for its positive portrayal of a lesbian relationship. Jill Gutowitz, Teen Vogue, "The 25 Best LGBTQ Movies to Watch," 28 June 2018

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

1843, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for portrayal

Last Updated

9 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for portrayal

The first known use of portrayal was in 1843

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More Definitions for portrayal



English Language Learners Definition of portrayal

: the act of showing or describing someone or something especially in a painting, book, etc.

: the way in which an actor plays a character


por·​tray·​al | \pȯr-ˈtrā-əl \

Kids Definition of portrayal

: the act or result of showing in a portrait or describing in words or images The movie is an accurate portrayal of her life.

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