por·​tray·​al | \ pȯr-ˈtrā(-ə)l How to pronounce portrayal (audio) , 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

After a lifetime of pain, a diagnosis The New Yorker’s Masha Gessen criticized Chernobyl’s portrayal of Soviet officials as unrealistically humane. Sophia Moskalenko, Vox, "I was a child of Chernobyl," 2 July 2019 The film's portrayal of slavery and the Civil War South, along with a scene that involves marital rape, has shined a harsher, more critical light on the film in the years since its release. Frank Pallotta, CNN, "The 10 highest-grossing movies of all time may surprise you," 2 July 2019 In the documentary, director Erin Lee Carr splits the narrative into two halves, partially to critique that portrayal. Isaac Feldberg, BostonGlobe.com, "New HBO documentary will explore Michelle Carter case," 1 July 2019 Didion’s sometimes almost clinical attention to detail may occasionally even make one’s mind wander, despite Ross’ compelling portrayal, and maybe that too is appropriate in a way. Sam Hurwitt, The Mercury News, "Review: Aurora goes deep into grief in Joan Didion play," 28 June 2019 Myriad symbols have been criticized for offensive content, including racist portrayals of communities of color and symbols of colonialism in the United States. Alexa Díaz, latimes.com, "School to cover up George Washington mural that depicts violence and slavery," 28 June 2019 Still, Whedon wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Boreanaz’s thoughtful portrayal of the damned creature who was so damn easy to love. Ruth Kinane, EW.com, "Angel cast and creators reunite for 20th anniversary of beloved vampire drama series," 20 June 2019 Curtis’ other main collaborator, Hugh Grant–whose portrayals of whip-smart but slightly useless dreamers who seemed a lot like Curtis were a mainstay of some golden years in romantic comedy–has finally moved on. Belinda Luscombe, Time, "Rom-Com Master Richard Curtis Is Still Trying to Prove That All We Need Is Love," 20 June 2019 The ’90s had Kids, Harmony Korine’s bleakly disaffected portrayal of teenage skater kids sharing drugs and HIV. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Euphoria’s Familiar Moral Panic," 19 June 2019

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

6 Jul 2019

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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 How to pronounce portrayal (audio) \

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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