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

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 The eight Black men who play her teammates, including Milwaukee actor Dimonte Henning, also portray the other Black and white people in her life. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 17 Jan. 2022 Different shows portray different theories about time travel. Lauren Huff, EW.com, 17 Jan. 2022 Descriptions and imagery in Mesopotamian art and texts portray a powerful animal that pulled war wagons into battle and royal vehicles in parades. Katie Hunt, CNN, 14 Jan. 2022 Actors with autism portray a character on the spectrum, and a new elevator helps disabled patrons. Mike Adamson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 13 Jan. 2022 An English novelist would portray the woman as an eccentric, warty and beribboned. Parul Sehgal, The New Yorker, 27 Dec. 2021 If Trump is criminally charged, his lawyers would most likely portray his lenders as sophisticated financial institutions that conducted their own assessments of his properties’ values without relying entirely on him. BostonGlobe.com, 23 Dec. 2021 Sinclair wrote all episodes and Sharpe directed them, with the two collaborating closely on how to empathetically portray memories of events that are altered slightly depending on which party is recalling them. Danielle Turchiano, Variety, 6 Dec. 2021 The case has also magnified law enforcement’s handling of domestic violence and how social media may not accurately portray a person’s life. Washington Post, 5 Oct. 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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Dictionary Entries Near portray




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Statistics for portray

Last Updated

22 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Portray.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portray. Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on portray

Nglish: Translation of portray for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of portray for Arabic Speakers


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