Definition of portrait in English:


Pronunciation: /ˈpɔːtreɪt//ˈpɔːtrət/


  • 1A painting, drawing, photograph, or engraving of a person, especially one depicting only the face or head and shoulders.

    ‘a portrait of George III’
    [as modifier] ‘a portrait painter’
    • ‘As was the case with his predecessor, the most eloquent image of Leo X is his portrait by Raphael.’
    • ‘The hunt for the identities of portraits hidden among onlookers in painted scenes has engaged some authors.’
    • ‘It's on now at the Richmond Art Gallery and consists of a series of portrait photograms and paintings.’
    • ‘It is surely permissible to see in these two portraits the hand of a single painter.’
    • ‘She often painted portraits of herself, and of her relatives and friends.’
    • ‘The picture above is from a engraving made from a portrait from life.’
    • ‘He broke with tradition when his official portrait was done in photographic form rather than a painting.’
    • ‘His exploits were commemorated in a series of paintings, portraits and engravings.’
    • ‘Many of his works consist of portraits or series of portraits of prosaic objects.’
    • ‘There are three surviving painted portraits by Rubens which show Frans with his mother, Helena.’
    • ‘Although a rough and possibly abandoned study, it was almost certainly done at the time Gauguin was painting the portrait of him.’
    • ‘Ladies come to me for a gown as they go to a distinguished painter to get their portraits put on canvas.’
    • ‘He made his reputation as a painter of small-scale portraits and genre scenes of contemporary city life.’
    • ‘His portrait by Gentile Bellini faces the visitor entering the first of the Ottoman rooms.’
    • ‘The heroine was played by Rita Luna, and her portrait was painted by Goya.’
    • ‘It is in these interior scenes and portraits that art historians have most often claimed to detect the use of the camera.’
    • ‘Each is in turn derived from a familiar portrait by the likes of David and Holbein.’
    • ‘Gretl had her portrait painted by Gustav Klimt, the great Austrian Art Nouveau painter.’
    • ‘She enjoyed having studio photographic portraits taken of her and her dollies.’
    • ‘It is significant that on hearing of the death of Lacy, Bacon should have painted a triptych portrait of the dead man from memory.’
    photograph, photo, studio portrait, picture, shot, study, still, snap, snapshot, vignette
    painting, picture, drawing, sketch, likeness, image, study, representation, portrayal, depiction, canvas
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A representation or impression of someone or something in language or on film or television.
      ‘the writer builds up a fascinating portrait of a community’
      • ‘The community portrait is based on first hand comments and observational camerawork.’
      • ‘It runs a little long, but it's worth seeing as a sensitive portrait of a community.’
      • ‘This portrait of his life and work is a fascinating insight into the underbelly of sin city.’
      • ‘The film offered a portrait of a young Greek god, albeit an eccentric one, obsessed with speed, cinema and women.’
      • ‘The film is an intimate portrait of a woman and her mission of assassination.’
      • ‘It should provide him with the perfect backdrop for an incisive portrait of a world unfamiliar to the general viewer.’
      • ‘Now his estranged son has filmed a portrait of the great architect, his buildings and his haunted life.’
      • ‘I make no apologies for trying to make a portrait of a community.’
      • ‘The bonus materials combine to paint a very nice portrait of the film and its background.’
      • ‘It is possible that this portrait of a fascinating metropolis deserves all the showered praise.’
      • ‘In their film version, these tales constitute living and precise portraits of manners.’
      • ‘It's a fascinating portrait of a so-called serial killer, and a damning one of the society in which she lived.’
      • ‘The story is a glowing portrait of a crusading humanitarian on a difficult mission to save his native land.’
      • ‘The portrait is consistent with the impressions of Hanif's neighbours.’
      • ‘The film is an affectionate portrait of his uncle and offers extensive access to its subject.’
      • ‘A tragic story lies behind the portrait of his aunt Marianne, for example.’
      • ‘McCarthy's film is really a portrait of the risks and rewards of letting others see your vulnerable side.’
      • ‘It offers a fascinating portrait of 1950s South Africa and the resistance of young black writers.’
      • ‘It is through their portraits and their stories that I am able to tell another.’
      • ‘What was your first collaboration and what led you to honor him with this film portrait?’
      description, portrayal, representation, depiction, impression, account, story, chronicle
      View synonyms
  • 2[usually as modifier] Denoting a format of printed matter which is higher than it is wide.

    ‘you can print landscape and portrait pages in the same document’
    Compare with landscape
    • ‘The screen will also adjust between a landscape and portrait view according to the content.’
    • ‘The unit appears designed to be used in portrait mode for PDA operation and in a landscape orientation for navigation.’
    • ‘Next purchase would be a wide angle lens, then a portrait lens and so on.’
    • ‘It will not switch to portrait mode, though it does tilt and have vertical adjustments.’
    • ‘If the phone is at a 180 degree position, the photo taken will be in portrait mode.’
    • ‘The portrait mode is primarily intended to facilitate the device's use as an electronic book.’
    • ‘Rotating the screen through 90 degrees cause the image to be redrawn at that angle, going from a portrait view to landscape.’
    • ‘The portrait mode will result in a sharp object and blurred background, for instance.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The computer does this and can rotate the screen from landscape to portrait mode.’
    • ‘However, you can also twist the screen, close the clamshell and use it in portrait orientation like a PDA.’


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