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 The young woman portrayed is personable and anything but svelte. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "The Amy Sherald Effect," 16 Sep. 2019 As portrayed, this executive would earn an additional $44,646, or 19% more. Nanette Asimov, SFChronicle.com, "Amid uproar over exec pay increases, CCSF chancellor says raises not final," 16 Sep. 2019 Low Country’’ often portrayed the lives of women coming to terms with the social mores of the South, died Sept. 11 at her home in Charleston, S.C. BostonGlobe.com, "Anne Rivers Siddons, whose best-selling novels such as ‘‘Peachtree Road,’’ ‘‘Outer Banks’,’ and ‘‘Low Country’’ often portrayed the lives of women coming to terms with the social mores of the South, died Sept. 11 at her home in Charleston, S.C. She was 83.," 15 Sep. 2019 But the series wisely leaves any further Hollywood trappings at the door, and portrays a startling, angering, straightforward tragedy that could have been entirely avoided. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "Review: Netflix's 'Unbelievable' is a harrowing true crime must-watch," 13 Sep. 2019 After all, the multiple Emmy winner has made his fair share of jabs at people over the years, certainly in the past few years portraying President Trump on Saturday Night Live and as the witty host of ABC’s Match Game. Ew Staff, EW.com, "What to Watch this weekend: Alec Baldwin gets roasted on Comedy Central," 13 Sep. 2019 Overall, many of the changes finalized last month are far more modest than environmentalists and the media have portrayed. Shawn Regan, National Review, "The New Endangered-Species Regulations Are Good for Species," 12 Sep. 2019 Yang first appeared on SNL last season, portraying Kim Jong-Un in a sketch with Sandra Oh. SNL premieres Sept. 28. Wei-huan Chen, Houston Chronicle, "SNL hires first Asian-American cast member in 44 year history," 12 Sep. 2019 The flag, portraying a red sun with 16 rays extending outward, is resented by many South Koreans, who still harbor animosity over Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. Kim Tong-hyung, chicagotribune.com, "South Korea asks IOC to ban ‘rising sun’ flag at Tokyo Olympics," 11 Sep. 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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Statistics for portray

Last Updated

25 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for portray

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

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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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