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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘While pictures often portray the man sneering down his nose at the camera, in person he is strikingly soft-spoken, almost courtly.’
    • ‘Interestingly, the Torah is unique among all ancient national literature in that it portrays its people in both victory and defeat.’
    • ‘Not only does the painting portray these illnesses, it also depicts many of the methods used in the hospital to cure them.’
    • ‘The author also portrays Margaret's husband John not as the militant Protestant of some portrayals, but very supportive of his wife.’
    • ‘The author deftly portrays Mitchell's cavalier attitude toward the proceedings and his consequent massacre at the hands of an able prosecutor.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Pictures portraying people, birds, animals used to be very popular on seals.’
    • ‘His rich experience in the field helps him portray each character better year after year.’
    • ‘At its worst, the literature portrays the professor as a rusty wheel ignoring the paradigm shift.’
    • ‘In literature, novels began portraying a world in which the options offered to ‘real men’ were far more complicated than ever before.’
    • ‘Rather, Thai children's literature portrays cultural practices and values through both explicit instructions and implicit morals.’
    • ‘The author made extensive use of surviving manuscripts to portray Nelson ‘in all his paradoxical complexity’.’
    • ‘An artist himself, Bridges was drawn to portraying an illustrator.’
    • ‘Painters, photographers and ceramicists portrayed them, and illustrators produced cartoons about them.’
    • ‘The author also skillfully portrays nonevents.’
    • ‘It is tempting for trendy writers to portray him as a tool of rich imperialists oppressing the poor convicts.’
    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’
      • ‘By 1999, its annual report was portraying it as the champion of the new economy.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The report does, however, portray a torrid tale of arrogance and incompetence by the company's management.’
      • ‘Do the cameras and reporters only see, or want to portray, the demeaning of America?’
      • ‘Our room was not exactly how the description on the leaflet had portrayed it.’
      • ‘Graffiti has reached epidemic proportions spurred on by commercial concerns portraying it as ‘cool’, says a report published today.’
      • ‘Detailed research allows the group to portray aspects of later Roman life which have, until recently, been largely overlooked.’
      • ‘The compilation of this report if attempting to portray an unbiased account should have mentioned the Palestinian casualties.’
      • ‘Other reports, however, appear to portray a system in deep financial trouble.’
      • ‘People recite poems, or act out little skits to portray their feelings.’
      • ‘Much of the teachings in Buddhism are portrayed through a narrative framework.’
      • ‘The Kaiser report says it's the rare program that portrays sex with any risks or consequences.’
      • ‘Or at least reporters would be less able to portray the movement as divided.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘All these descriptions of Scotland portray Scotland as a place where the agents of darkness have shrouded the land.’
      • ‘The influence of such groups allows the media to portray reporting as responsible and providing ‘balance’.’
      • ‘The reports also portray a shocking tale of work almost without break and poor living conditions.’
      • ‘I will table the report, because the member is portraying it incorrectly - for political purposes, I think.’
      • ‘Itinerant and illiterate, the Ma portrayed in Chinese newspaper reports was not a model citizen.’
      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’
      • ‘Actors portraying actual historical persons usually have scant resemblance to them.’
      • ‘The film also portrays Pilate's wife Claudia as a kind of heroine.’
      • ‘We firmly believe that a film which portrays someone dying is not for public viewing.’
      • ‘I have no qualms about talented straight actors portraying gay characters as long as they play the role completely and uncompromisingly.’
      • ‘Three of the four children are portrayed by actors in their first major roles.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Since the Second World War all Hollywood films have portrayed the US as victors, never mentioning the Europeans.’
      • ‘Law's testimony is interspersed with readings by actors portraying witnesses and victims, taken from survivors' accounts and letters mailed to Law's office.’
      • ‘Winners received a trip to Washington and Mt. Vernon, and got to ask their questions in person to an actor portraying the first president.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The actor portraying the central character in that film wasn't a disabled person either but I would argue that it didn't matter.’
      • ‘In fact, all the actors portraying the historical figures do so with such accuracy that it makes the film all the funnier.’
      • ‘Around you are other guests, actors portraying guests, and a large cast of Nunzio and Vitale family members and friends.’
      • ‘See if you can guess the famous actors portraying these characters.’
      • ‘I can't be alone in being alarmed at the significance of the film portraying a woman as the perpetrator of violence.’
      • ‘As is always the case when a film contains an abnormal character, the actor portraying him takes the spotlight.’
      • ‘When an actress portrays a character, viewers see her emotions physically, on her face and in her body.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The actors portray actors in an old fashioned music hall putting on a production of the musical.’
      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/