[ pawr-trey ]
See synonyms for portray on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object)
  1. to make a likeness of by drawing, painting, carving, or the like.

  2. to depict in words; describe graphically.

  1. to represent dramatically, as on the stage: He portrayed Napoleon in the play.

Origin of portray

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English portrayen, from Middle French portraire, from Late Latin prōtrahere “to depict,” Latin: “to draw forth,” equivalent to prō- pro-1 + trahere “to draw”

synonym study For portray

1, 2. See depict.

Other words for portray

Other words from portray

  • por·tray·a·ble, adjective
  • por·tray·er, noun
  • non·por·tray·a·ble, adjective
  • pre·por·tray, verb (used with object)
  • un·por·tray·a·ble, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use portray in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for portray


/ (pɔːˈtreɪ) /

  1. to represent in a painting, drawing, sculpture, etc; make a portrait of

  2. to make a verbal picture of; depict in words

  1. to play the part of (a character) in a play or film

Origin of portray

C14: from Old French portraire to depict, from Latin prōtrahere to drag forth, bring to light, from pro- 1 + trahere to drag

Derived forms of portray

  • portrayable, adjective
  • portrayal, noun
  • portrayer, noun

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