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 Stegman said that low taxes are her top political issue, and that the media is trying falsely to portray Trump and Republicans as racist. Maya Rao, Star Tribune, "Trump rally highlights tensions over race in Beltrami County," 24 Sep. 2020 Morse and progressive groups like the Justice Democrats have played up Neal's ties to special interests, trying to portray the incumbent as out of touch with the district. Caitlin Conant, CBS News, "Postmaster general testifies: Dems focus on mail voting, GOP hones in on USPS funding," 21 Aug. 2020 Putin is not alone among leaders trying to portray the pandemic as a fading threat. Washington Post, "Putin tells Russia coronavirus is in retreat. Critics face crackdowns for saying it’s far from over.," 29 June 2020 As for the rest of the cast, Lesley Manville will take over the role of Princess Margaret, Jonathan Pryce will play an older Prince Philip, and Elizabeth Debicki will portray Diana. Lydia Wang, refinery29.com, "Prepare To Wait A While For The Crown Season 5," 23 Nov. 2020 In The Fighting Shirley Chisholm, Gurira will portray the titular figure during her 1972 presidential run, Variety reports. Harper's Bazaar Staff, Harper's BAZAAR, "Danai Gurira Will Star as Shirley Chisholm in an Upcoming Film," 15 Nov. 2020 This year, two people will portray an uncle and brother and tell the story of a man named Thomas Haggard. John Delapp, Houston Chronicle, "‘Voices’ event to bring Pasadena’s past to present," 29 Sep. 2020 In addition to Aduba playing Phoebe, Bathe will portray Rachel, Hinds will play Monica, Brown will assume the role of Ross, Sampson will appear as Joey, and Pope will star as Chandler. Lisa Respers France, CNN, "Gabrielle Union-Wade heading up 'Friends' table read with all Black cast," 22 Sep. 2020 Spain is next with 89, followed by Argentina (81), Brazil (79.5), Britain (79.4), Mexico (78), Italy (76.8) and the United States (76.0), despite President Trump’s efforts to portray the U.S. as having a low death rate. Chronicle Staff, SFChronicle.com, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: Nov. 13-19," 22 Nov. 2020

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

10 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Portray.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portray. Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

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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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