Definition of portray in English:


Syllabification: por·tray
Pronunciation: /pôrˈtrā


[with object]
  • 1Depict (someone or something) in a work of art or literature: the author wanted to portray a new type of hero
    More example sentences
    • Rather, Thai children's literature portrays cultural practices and values through both explicit instructions and implicit morals.
    • Interestingly, the Torah is unique among all ancient national literature in that it portrays its people in both victory and defeat.
    • At its worst, the literature portrays the professor as a rusty wheel ignoring the paradigm shift.
  • 1.1(Of an actor) represent or play the part of (someone) on film or stage: he tossed his affable TV persona aside to portray a merciless mobster
    More example sentences
    • Three of the four children are portrayed by actors in their first major roles.
    • Winners received a trip to Washington and Mt. Vernon, and got to ask their questions in person to an actor portraying the first president.
    • As is always the case when a film contains an abnormal character, the actor portraying him takes the spotlight.
    play, act the part of, take the role of, represent, appear as
    formal personate
  • 1.2 [with object] Describe (someone or something) in a particular way: the book portrayed him as a self-serving careerist
    More example sentences
    • The compilation of this report if attempting to portray an unbiased account should have mentioned the Palestinian casualties.
    • An actor who feels he has served his time, he is angered by reports that portray him as an over night success and is not prepared to underestimate his value now.
    • The reports also portray a shocking tale of work almost without break and poor living conditions.





More example sentences
  • I suppose Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller was the ichiban Tarzan portrayer and Maureen O'Sullivan with prototypical Jane.
  • One of filmdom's most popular portrayers of British secret agent ‘007,’ is in Indonesia, but not to film a new James Bond movie.
  • Local stations received additional support, as all winners joined the George Washington portrayer in taping a public service announcement which was then sent to local affiliates.


Middle English: from Old French portraire, based on traire 'to draw', from an alteration of Latin trahere.

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