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 Spector has said the Manchester documents portray Eulizier unfairly. Dave Collins, Star Tribune, "Dad of Connecticut teen killed by police sues officer, town," 19 Feb. 2021 Were a similar technicolor romance to portray America’s national character over the past seven decades, the right would be represented by a series of characters all named L. Brent Bozell. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, "The Rise and Fall of the L. Brent Bozells," 19 Feb. 2021 Essentially, Churchman paints a wide variety of disparate subjects as a means to portray his interest in metaphysics. Matthew Bourbon, Dallas News, "From Buddha to the iPhone: Artist casts a wide net to explore metaphysics at the Modern," 16 Feb. 2021 To portray a woman determined to stick it out on her own in the wild – no car, no running water, no electricity – Wright got schooled in shooting game, chopping wood and fishing. Andrea Mandell, Detroit Free Press, "Robin Wright went all in on ‘Land’," 12 Feb. 2021 While Johnny Depp doesn't return to portray the title character, the spot -- which debuted online hours before the game -- reveals that Kim and Edward had a child. Anna Chan, Billboard, "Winona Ryder Is Back With Edward Scissorhands' Son in New Super Bowl Ad: Watch," 7 Feb. 2021 The choreography of the hearing appeared designed to portray due process being granted to Mr. Navalny. New York Times, "Russian Activist Navalny Sentenced to More Than 2 Years in Prison," 2 Feb. 2021 The people who portray our culture’s robots certainly know of their debt to Čapek, even if most of us do not. John M. Jordan/mit Press Reader, Popular Science, "The first ‘robots’ were made of flesh and bone," 26 Jan. 2021 Chinese diplomats attempting to portray the repression of Uighur Muslims as a victory for women’s rights may have admitted to genocide, according to analysts monitoring the crackdown. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "China portrays repression of Uighur birthrates as victory for feminism," 8 Jan. 2021

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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Time Traveler for portray

Time Traveler

The first known use of portray was in the 14th century

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Statistics for portray

Last Updated

27 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Portray.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portray. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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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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