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portray

[pawr-trey, pohr-]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to make a likeness of by drawing, painting, carving, or the like.
  2. to depict in words; describe graphically.
  3. to represent dramatically, as on the stage: He portrayed Napoleon in the play.

Origin of portray

1300–50; Middle English portrayen < Middle French portraire < Late Latin prōtrahere to depict, Latin: to draw forth, equivalent to prō- pro-1 + trahere to draw
Related formspor·tray·a·ble, adjectivepor·tray·er, nounnon·por·tray·a·ble, adjectivepre·por·tray, verb (used with object)un·por·tray·a·ble, adjectiveun·por·trayed, adjective

Synonyms

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1, 2. picture, delineate, limn.

Synonym study

1, 2. See depict.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for portray

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • I thought him as true a representative of the people as ever theory could portray.

    Biographical Sketches

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • It is this greatness of soul in Cleopatra which Shakespeare has now to portray.

  • The nature they portray is not human, but super- or subter-human, which you will.

    Another Sheaf

    John Galsworthy

  • Now let us portray the events which preceded the masked bridal.

    The Masked Bridal

    Mrs. Georgie Sheldon

  • They were from a feudalistic world and tried to portray the Aztecs in such terms.

    Adaptation

    Dallas McCord Reynolds


British Dictionary definitions for portray

portray

verb (tr)
  1. to represent in a painting, drawing, sculpture, etc; make a portrait of
  2. to make a verbal picture of; depict in words
  3. to play the part of (a character) in a play or film
Derived Formsportrayable, adjectiveportrayal, nounportrayer, noun

Word Origin

C14: from Old French portraire to depict, from Latin prōtrahere to drag forth, bring to light, from pro- 1 + trahere to drag
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for portray

v.

mid-13c., "to draw, paint" (something), from Anglo-French purtraire, Old French portraire "to draw, to paint, portray" (12c.), literally "trace, draw forth," from por- "forth" (from Latin pro-; see pro-) + traire "trace, draw," from Latin trahere "to drag, draw" (see tract (n.1)). Meaning "depict in words, describe" is from late 14c. Related: Portrayed; portraying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper