[pawrt-lee, pohrt-]

adjective, port·li·er, port·li·est.

rather heavy or fat; stout; corpulent.
Archaic. stately, dignified, or imposing.

Origin of portly

1520–30; port5 (noun) + -ly
Related formsport·li·ness, nounun·port·ly, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for portliness

Historical Examples of portliness

  • Considering their enormous appetites, their portliness seems only natural.

    Birds in London

    W. H. Hudson

  • And Tommy Chadwick stood in all his portliness on the platform.

  • The personage was also of a portliness, and the collision had knocked the wind out of him.

    Helmet of Navarre

    Bertha Runkle

  • Mr. Newsome was tall and broad and well on the way to portliness.

    Rose of Old Harpeth

    Maria Thompson Daviess

  • Suddenly he laid his hat back, and drew up his form into as near a semblance of dignity as its portliness would allow.

    A Strange Disappearance

    Anna Katharine Green

British Dictionary definitions for portliness


adjective -lier or -liest

stout or corpulent
archaic stately; impressive
Derived Formsportliness, noun

Word Origin for portly

C16: from port 5 (in the sense: deportment, bearing)
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 portliness



early 15c., "stately, dignified," from port (n.3) "bearing, carriage" + -ly (1). Meaning "stout" is first recorded 1590s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper