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

Keep scrolling for more

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

That certainly is not the most honest portrayal of her past. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "Julia Salazar, the socialist politician accused of lying about her past, explained," 7 Sep. 2018 Shanshui is said to be not just a portrayal of nature but also an expression of the artist’s inner self. Lori Waxman, chicagotribune.com, "Xu Longsen's artistic reminder of the vastness of nature," 14 June 2018 The one-minute, 45-second ad is a polished and accurate portrayal of Hogan’s effort to work with Maryland Democrats on health care. Michael Dresser, baltimoresun.com, "Gov. Larry Hogan's health care ad paints D.C. as problem, bipartisanship (and himself) as the cure," 8 June 2018 All in all, the show was such a benign portrayal of Trumpland that Trump himself applauded it. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "The Roseanne Fantasy Is Over," 30 May 2018 The 101-year-old actress was not happy about her portrayal in the 2017 docudrama, but a California court of appeals has reversed a trial court's decision green-lighting her lawsuit against FX and showrunner Ryan Murphy on 1st Amendment grounds. latimes.com, "Today: Russia, the Slapdown and the Silence," 27 Mar. 2018 It's been a big winner in the awards circuit this year, with Rami Malek praised for his ah-MAZE-ing portrayal of Mercury. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "What Queen Says About Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury In 'Bohemian Rhapsody'," 23 Feb. 2019 In 1976 Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman won wide acclaim for their convincing portrayals of Watergate reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein without any effort whatever to replicate their appearance. Peter Funt, WSJ, "Hollywood’s Mimicry Can Miss the Point," 21 Feb. 2019 Thank you George Eads for your amazing portrayal of Jack Dalton. Megan Stein, Country Living, "'MacGyver' Fans Threaten They're 'Done with the Show' After George Eads's Emotional Exit," 4 Feb. 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.

See More

First Known Use of portrayal

1843, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about portrayal

Share portrayal

Statistics for portrayal

Last Updated

16 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for portrayal

The first known use of portrayal was in 1843

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on portrayal

What made you want to look up portrayal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to boil down or concentrate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!