Definition of portrait in US English:



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

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

    ‘you can print landscape and portrait pages in the same document’
    Compare with landscape (sense 2 of the noun)
    • ‘Next purchase would be a wide angle lens, then a portrait lens and so on.’
    • ‘The screen will also adjust between a landscape and portrait view according to the content.’
    • ‘If the phone is at a 180 degree position, the photo taken will be in portrait mode.’
    • ‘The seventh button toggles full-screen text input on and off, the eighth flips the display from portrait mode to landscape.’
    • ‘Rotating the screen through 90 degrees cause the image to be redrawn at that angle, going from a portrait view to landscape.’
    • ‘It will not switch to portrait mode, though it does tilt and have vertical adjustments.’
    • ‘This allows you physically to swivel the screen to either landscape or portrait configuration.’
    • ‘The computer does this and can rotate the screen from landscape to portrait mode.’
    • ‘The Rotate button spins the display into a portrait format, which can be very handy when you're reading a long document.’
    • ‘However, you can also twist the screen, close the clamshell and use it in portrait orientation like a PDA.’
    • ‘The unit appears designed to be used in portrait mode for PDA operation and in a landscape orientation for navigation.’
    • ‘The portrait mode is primarily intended to facilitate the device's use as an electronic book.’
    • ‘The portrait mode will result in a sharp object and blurred background, for instance.’


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