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

McCain also responded to a tweet from producer and writer Scott Stenholm, who noted that SNL parodies are typically more unforgiving in their portrayals of political figures. Brieanna J Frank, azcentral, "Meghan McCain responds to 'Saturday Night Live' spoof after being portrayed by Aidy Bryant," 20 May 2018 Viewers might have also found current resonance in its portrayals of the rise of German nationalism, attacks on science, American travel restrictions and Einstein’s early dismissals of Hitler. Mike Hale, New York Times, "Review: ‘Genius’ Paints Picasso by the Numbers," 23 Apr. 2018 Then again, the humanity of the ghetto found pride of place in many portrayals: Despite punishment by death, the study of Torah continued and was taught to the children. Samantha Baskind, Time, "The Story of the Warsaw Ghetto Is About Much More Than Just the Uprising," 18 Apr. 2018 That would be Rami Malek, fresh off winning an Oscar for his portrayal of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. Andrew Daniels, Popular Mechanics, "Bond 25: Everything We Know About the New James Bond Movie," 25 Apr. 2019 For his portrayal of Prince Albert in the Masterpiece PBS series, the British actor worked with a dialect coach to perfect his speech. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Watch Victoria's Tom Hughes in an Exclusive New Clip of the WWII Spy Drama Red Joan," 19 Apr. 2019 Below, all the TV shows and movies to check out this week: Sunday, March 31 Veep: Comedy queen Julia Louis-Dreyfus has won a whopping nine Emmys for her portrayal of Selina Meyer on Veep, which kicks off its final season tonight. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "12 TV Shows and Movies You Should Watch This Week Instead of Making Actual Plans," 31 Mar. 2019 None other than Broadway icon Harvey Fierstein, known for his portrayal of Edna Turnblad in the original cast of Hairspray. Gianluca Russo, Teen Vogue, "Lea Michele to Star in "The Little Mermaid" at the Hollywood Bowl," 30 Mar. 2019 Not Mahershala Ali, who actually won an Oscar for his portrayal of real-life Black pianist and composer Dr. Don Shirley in the Jim Crow South? Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "The Most Awkward Moments from the 2019 Oscars," 25 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

Statistics for portrayal

Last Updated

25 May 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 speak slightingly about or to degrade

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!