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 Organizations sold fake and stolen identification documents that would portray them as related family members. Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, "Smugglers sneaking single adults over border after years of ferrying families," 10 Feb. 2020 Bong’s Parasite is satire and psychological drama that portrays with devastating plausibility, and with all our wretched idiosyncrasies, the absolute worst of human nature. Madeleine Kearns, National Review, "What Two Nominations for Best Picture Say About Film," 10 Feb. 2020 Photos, videos and 3D images that accurately portray a property allow potential buyers to engage in solid conversations quicker, experts say. oregonlive, "Do these real estate photos say “buy me”? Tips to a faster sale," 21 Jan. 2020 Monstress, the comic that portrays even giant magical dragons as survivors and refugees of war, is back this month to reckon with its own impending conflict. Christian Holub, EW.com, "5 comics to read this January: War and peace," 8 Jan. 2020 The president has always portrayed himself as under siege. USA Today, "Analysis: Trump more negative, prolific on Twitter amid Democratic impeachment inquiry," 23 Dec. 2019 Middletown: The town has approved guidelines that would allow the annual Hummer’s Parade to continue on New Year’s Day despite last year’s controversy over a float that portrayed migrant children in cages. USA TODAY, "Lego impeachment, emotional support coyote, mumbo sauce: News from around our 50 states," 21 Dec. 2019 Optimistically, a wave of new films that portray women of color as appropriate romantic leads are hitting the US market. Brianna Holt, Quartz, "TV and film play an understated role in perpetuating racial bias on dating apps," 7 Nov. 2019 Each half-hour, exchanges between Native Americans and settlers will portray the first Thanksgiving in Ohio. Luann Gibbs, Cincinnati.com, "Things to do this week in Cincinnati: Nov. 4-10," 4 Nov. 2019

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

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Portray.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portraying. Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for portray


How to pronounce portray (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on portray

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for portray

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with portray

Spanish Central: Translation of portray

Nglish: Translation of portray for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of portray for Arabic Speakers

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