Definition of portray in English:

portray

verb

[with object]
  • 1Depict (someone or something) in a work of art or literature.

    ‘the ineffectual Oxbridge dons portrayed by Evelyn Waugh’
    • ‘Some of the characters do not yet have pictures to portray them.’
    • ‘His rich experience in the field helps him portray each character better year after year.’
    • ‘The author made extensive use of surviving manuscripts to portray Nelson ‘in all his paradoxical complexity’.’
    • ‘The author also portrays Margaret's husband John not as the militant Protestant of some portrayals, but very supportive of his wife.’
    • ‘An artist himself, Bridges was drawn to portraying an illustrator.’
    • ‘At its worst, the literature portrays the professor as a rusty wheel ignoring the paradigm shift.’
    • ‘Pictures portraying people, birds, animals used to be very popular on seals.’
    • ‘In literature, novels began portraying a world in which the options offered to ‘real men’ were far more complicated than ever before.’
    • ‘The author also skillfully portrays nonevents.’
    • ‘The author deftly portrays Mitchell's cavalier attitude toward the proceedings and his consequent massacre at the hands of an able prosecutor.’
    • ‘Interestingly, the Torah is unique among all ancient national literature in that it portrays its people in both victory and defeat.’
    • ‘While pictures often portray the man sneering down his nose at the camera, in person he is strikingly soft-spoken, almost courtly.’
    • ‘He painted and drew the beautiful women of Belle Epoch, portraying the beauty ideal of his time, and for this reason succeeded in earning phenomenal recognition even while still alive.’
    • ‘Early depictions of Cain portray him as a bearded man holding a sheaf of grain in one hand and vine-bearing grapes in the other.’
    • ‘One side of the book portrays the brutality of colonization; the other depicts the determined resistance of campesinos.’
    • ‘Not only does the painting portray these illnesses, it also depicts many of the methods used in the hospital to cure them.’
    • ‘Rather, Thai children's literature portrays cultural practices and values through both explicit instructions and implicit morals.’
    • ‘It is tempting for trendy writers to portray him as a tool of rich imperialists oppressing the poor convicts.’
    • ‘Painters, photographers and ceramicists portrayed them, and illustrators produced cartoons about them.’
    • ‘This new portrait, now hanging in the National Portrait Gallery, depicts a rather more mature-looking Bill, while still portraying his huge sense of fun.’
    paint, draw, draw a picture of, paint a picture of, picture, sketch, depict, represent, illustrate, present, show, render
    describe, depict, characterize, represent, delineate, present, show, paint in words, evoke
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    1. 1.1 Describe (someone or something) in a particular way.
      ‘the book portrayed him as a self-serving careerist’
      • ‘People recite poems, or act out little skits to portray their feelings.’
      • ‘The influence of such groups allows the media to portray reporting as responsible and providing ‘balance’.’
      • ‘Other reports, however, appear to portray a system in deep financial trouble.’
      • ‘Teenagers are often portrayed in a negative way, often linked with reports of anti-social behaviour and crime.’
      • ‘However my maid had gleefully portrayed to me the details of his handsome countenance.’
      • ‘By 1999, its annual report was portraying it as the champion of the new economy.’
      • ‘Do the cameras and reporters only see, or want to portray, the demeaning of America?’
      • ‘Much of the teachings in Buddhism are portrayed through a narrative framework.’
      • ‘The report does, however, portray a torrid tale of arrogance and incompetence by the company's management.’
      • ‘All these descriptions of Scotland portray Scotland as a place where the agents of darkness have shrouded the land.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Or at least reporters would be less able to portray the movement as divided.’
      • ‘I will table the report, because the member is portraying it incorrectly - for political purposes, I think.’
      • ‘The reports also portray a shocking tale of work almost without break and poor living conditions.’
      • ‘Our room was not exactly how the description on the leaflet had portrayed it.’
      • ‘The Kaiser report says it's the rare program that portrays sex with any risks or consequences.’
      • ‘Detailed research allows the group to portray aspects of later Roman life which have, until recently, been largely overlooked.’
      • ‘Itinerant and illiterate, the Ma portrayed in Chinese newspaper reports was not a model citizen.’
      • ‘Graffiti has reached epidemic proportions spurred on by commercial concerns portraying it as ‘cool’, says a report published today.’
      • ‘The compilation of this report if attempting to portray an unbiased account should have mentioned the Palestinian casualties.’
      represent, depict, characterize, describe, present
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    2. 1.2 (of an actor) play the part of (someone) in a film or play.
      ‘he chose Trevor Howard to portray Captain Bligh’
      • ‘See if you can guess the famous actors portraying these characters.’
      • ‘Yet for all of this strength and perseverance, the film portrays Theresa as a flawed person who has not risen above her dysfunctional roots, however much it may seem so.’
      • ‘I can't be alone in being alarmed at the significance of the film portraying a woman as the perpetrator of violence.’
      • ‘I have no qualms about talented straight actors portraying gay characters as long as they play the role completely and uncompromisingly.’
      • ‘In fact, all the actors portraying the historical figures do so with such accuracy that it makes the film all the funnier.’
      • ‘As is always the case when a film contains an abnormal character, the actor portraying him takes the spotlight.’
      • ‘The film also portrays Pilate's wife Claudia as a kind of heroine.’
      • ‘The actor portraying the central character in that film wasn't a disabled person either but I would argue that it didn't matter.’
      • ‘When an actress portrays a character, viewers see her emotions physically, on her face and in her body.’
      • ‘Winners received a trip to Washington and Mt. Vernon, and got to ask their questions in person to an actor portraying the first president.’
      • ‘Since the Second World War all Hollywood films have portrayed the US as victors, never mentioning the Europeans.’
      • ‘Voice acting is generally quite good, though from time to time you can expect to come across some truly awful actors portraying some of the characters.’
      • ‘Around you are other guests, actors portraying guests, and a large cast of Nunzio and Vitale family members and friends.’
      • ‘Law's testimony is interspersed with readings by actors portraying witnesses and victims, taken from survivors' accounts and letters mailed to Law's office.’
      • ‘We firmly believe that a film which portrays someone dying is not for public viewing.’
      • ‘Actors portraying actual historical persons usually have scant resemblance to them.’
      • ‘Later, Christensen takes another break from the action to cut to a close-up of a different actress portraying an elderly woman suspected of witchcraft.’
      • ‘The actors portray actors in an old fashioned music hall putting on a production of the musical.’
      • ‘When an actor can portray a character so well as to evoke a sincere and visceral hatred from a viewer, he has truly done his job well.’
      • ‘Three of the four children are portrayed by actors in their first major roles.’
      play the part of, play, act the part of, take the role of, act, represent, appear as
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Origin

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

Pronunciation

portray

/pɔːˈtreɪ/