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 In one memorable episode, Jacqueline persuades Titus to portray a bumbling nerd in an instructional sketch before an audience of high school students. BostonGlobe.com, 11 Oct. 2021 Aside from telling a good story and building strong characters, the great challenge for me was to portray the lives of these marginalized and rejected Israeli teenagers in a compassionate way. Emiliano Granada, Variety, 10 Oct. 2021 Wade sought to portray Rosendorff as potentially biased in favor of the government because his career is threatened by the CMS investigation. Sara Ashley O'brien, CNN, 6 Oct. 2021 Phelps has hired a dialect coach to help the actors portray a Jewish family in Brooklyn. Myrna Petlicki, chicagotribune.com, 7 Sep. 2021 Hugh Jackman was able to portray the mutant in legendary fashion for 10 films over the course of 17 years despite being 6’2. Scott King, Forbes, 1 Sep. 2021 The Sugarland member revealed her dream to portray Elphaba in the show back in 2007. Glenn Garner, PEOPLE.com, 27 Aug. 2021 Reed, the prosecutor, tried to portray Mills in a more sympathetic light. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, 11 Aug. 2021 Equally confident was Jennifer Hudson, hand-picked by Franklin -- who passed away during August of 2018 at the age of 76 -- to portray her in the nearly two-and-a-half-hour film. Gary Graff, cleveland, 10 Aug. 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

13 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Portray.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portray. Accessed 25 Oct. 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.

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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