Definition of portly in US English:



  • 1(especially of a man) having a stout body; somewhat fat.

    • ‘In the back of the restaurant, a rather portly man with graying hair sat down before a piano and placed his stubby fingers upon its glossy white keys.’
    • ‘Callista eyed the two portly cooks sceptically.’
    • ‘He is portly and stern and looks at his watch a lot and Thomas and his pals are a bit frightened of him, but he gets results.’
    • ‘A portly greybeard, with huge shoulders and chest, he could usually be found writing his reminiscences or playing with the grandchildren.’
    • ‘Her portly body was perched on a small stool precariously, looking like she would fall off if she shifted even slightly.’
    • ‘We also had a memorable discussion about the portly professor Natalie had in school who was actually from Transylvania.’
    • ‘Jack's portly wife, Bertha, invited Laurie to supper, and Laurie was delighted to hear stories that Jack told of being trail boss on his own cattle drives.’
    • ‘The portly woman was smiling when she returned.’
    • ‘He may be crook but he's also a nice big portly guy.’
    • ‘A portly British statesman once famously said that ‘democracy is based on reason and fair play.’’
    • ‘A short portly man with a bulbous nose and warm blue eyes - a Santa Claus without the beard - Drever is always talking and chuckling, ideas constantly bubbling up fast and furiously.’
    • ‘Jack has the body of a portly, suited figure much given to lunching.’
    • ‘Ever since the breakup and subsequent divorce, Jack had told close friends and family members that he would've been a-okay if Marley cheated on him with some portly slob.’
    • ‘Frankel leaned his portly, balding, middle-age frame against a wall while he studied the past performance statistics of the horses in the fifth.’
    • ‘A portly man was already in there, looking rather casual and unshaven.’
    • ‘As a teenager, John was quite portly - yet with a bit of discipline and a lot of bullying, the freshman fatty soon became a sophomore slim.’
    • ‘The driver, a portly man of medium height and an officer, taller and slim, talked as the sunlight poked through the clouds, shielding their eyes from its glare.’
    • ‘They skulk at the back, where portly men are eating prawn sandwiches and muttering.’
    • ‘He is a rather portly man with wavy, sand coloured hair and a farmer's style shirt.’
    • ‘With an oversized sweater hanging from his portly frame, Peterson waved and flashed a forced grin as the crowd applauded politely.’
    • ‘Jenkins neglected to mention one key argument, though: Americans are a portly group.’
    • ‘Lasse, a pale and portly businessman, is abruptly fired from his job after 30 years of service and 14 years without a missed day.’
    • ‘He was the heir to his father - the portly county sheriff whose duty to protect and serve was best carried out drinking coffee at the local lumber yard and surprising an occasional joy-riding youth.’
    • ‘‘It used to be a story that made us weep only,’ said Nabih al-Ibrahim, 42, a portly civil engineer running for a city council seat.’
    • ‘Also I realized Heather would be there and while I love her, she's very tall and when I am around tall people I feel extremely portly.’
    • ‘It took no more than a second for the door to snap open and a portly man to emerge, balancing two doughnuts precariously in one hand.’
    • ‘The manager, a short, portly man of perhaps 55, looked at them in alarm from across his cluttered desk.’
    • ‘Devlin swiveled around to see a short, portly man.’
    • ‘At that moment, the owner of the café - a large portly man with kind eyes but a stern mouth - came back behind the bar.’
    • ‘Our tester was burdened with a 10-pound snowboard strapped to his already portly pack.’
    • ‘Sometimes too portly to actually star on-screen, he often provided a smooth-toned voiceover for more handsome leading men.’
    • ‘She looked across the plain room to where a small portly man sat behind a large oak table, his podgy hands resting in front of him.’
    • ‘I nodded and leaned against the bar, my eyes following Isabelle over to where a balding, portly fellow was sitting at the bar.’
    • ‘Eventually he started to talk with the bartender, a portly fellow with a large salt-and-pepper mustache and squinty eyes.’
    • ‘Opposite, a portly gentleman with a magnificent beard adjusted his sword and bowed his head minutely in welcome.’
    • ‘Daddy, mustachioed and portly, wasn't there to monitor Aradhana's improvements.’
    • ‘In fact, I'm still a portly person, but I don't have any sympathy for those who blame others for their own poor choices, or the bad choices of their parents.’
    • ‘The fat portly man who had been questioning him turned to look at him, and Jason saw a snarl beneath the man's lips as he saw the figure stride forward.’
    • ‘King Francis, a portly man with a neat beard and light eyes, sat in an armchair before the fire, instructing one of the servants to place more logs in the hearth.’
    • ‘Osgood was a large, bearded portly gentleman who took life and mathematics very seriously and walked up and down in front of the blackboard making ponderous statements.’
    stout, plump, fat, overweight, heavy, corpulent, fleshy, paunchy, pot-bellied, beer-bellied, of ample build, ample, well upholstered, well padded, broad in the beam, rotund, roly-poly, round, rounded, stocky, bulky, falstaffian
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  • 2archaic Of a stately or dignified appearance and manner.

    ‘he was a man of portly presence’


Late 15th century: from port in the sense ‘bearing’ + -ly.