Definition of portrait in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpôrtrət/


1A painting, drawing, photograph, or engraving of a person, especially one depicting only the face or head and shoulders.
Example sentences
  • His exploits were commemorated in a series of paintings, portraits and engravings.
  • He made his reputation as a painter of small-scale portraits and genre scenes of contemporary city life.
  • It is in these interior scenes and portraits that art historians have most often claimed to detect the use of the camera.
painting, picture, drawing, sketch, likeness, image, study, miniature
informal oil
formal portraiture
1.1A representation or impression of someone or something in language or on film: the writer builds up a full and fascinating portrait of a community
More example sentences
  • McCarthy's film is really a portrait of the risks and rewards of letting others see your vulnerable side.
  • Now his estranged son has filmed a portrait of the great architect, his buildings and his haunted life.
  • The film offered a portrait of a young Greek god, albeit an eccentric one, obsessed with speed, cinema and women.
description, portrayal, representation, depiction, impression, account;
sketch, vignette, profile
2 [as modifier] (Of a page, book, or illustration, or the manner in which it is set or printed) higher than it is wide: you can print landscape and portrait pages in the same document Compare with landscape (sense 2 of the noun).
More example sentences
  • This allows you physically to swivel the screen to either landscape or portrait configuration.
  • The Rotate button spins the display into a portrait format, which can be very handy when you're reading a long document.
  • The seventh button toggles full-screen text input on and off, the eighth flips the display from portrait mode to landscape.



Pronunciation: /ˈpôrtrədəst/
sense 1.
Example sentences
  • Bernard was hugely influenced by the great portraitists - Rembrandt, Velasquez, Van Dyck, and our own Sir William Orpen.
  • Like Rembrandt, his contemporaries among the Restoration portraitists favoured fanciful mythological guises.
  • There is also an array of works in the show by established portraitists.


Mid 16th century: from French, past participle (used as a noun) of Old French portraire 'portray'.

  • abstract from Middle English:

    The Latin source of abstract, meant literally ‘drawn away’ and is from abstrahere, from the elements ab- ‘from’ and trahere ‘draw off’. The use in art dates from the mid 19th century. Trahere is found in many English words including: attract (Late Middle English) with ad ‘to’; portrait (mid 16th century), something drawn; protract (mid 16th century) with pro ‘out’; retract (Late Middle English) and retreat (Late Middle English) both drawing back; and words listed at train.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: por·trait

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