Meaning of “portray” in the English Dictionary

"portray" in British English

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portrayverb [ T ]

uk /pɔːˈtreɪ/ us /pɔːrˈtreɪ/

C2 to represent or describe someone or something in a painting, film, book, or other artistic work:

The painting portrays a beautiful young woman in a blue dress.
The writer portrays life in a small village at the turn of the century.
portray sb as sth

If a person in a film, book, etc. is portrayed as a particular type of character, they are represented in that way:

The father in the film is portrayed as a fairly unpleasant character.

More examples

  • The book portrays him as a hero of the Wild West.
  • He was portrayed as a ruthless opportunist who exploited the publicity at every opportunity.
  • She was portrayed in the papers as the embodiment of evil.
  • Marilyn was portrayed as some sort of dim-witted, floozy blonde.
  • He was portrayed as a hopeless drunk.
portrayal
noun [ C ] uk /pɔːˈtreɪ.əl/ us /pɔːrˈtreɪ.əl/

His latest movie is a grim portrayal of wartime suffering.

(Definition of “portray” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"portray" in American English

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portrayverb [ T ]

us /pɔrˈtreɪ, poʊr-/

to represent or describe someone or something in a book, movie, etc.:

The book portrayed him as somebody who was uncaring, even bigoted.
The writer portrays life in a working-class community at the turn of the century.

To portray is also to act the part of someone in a movie or play:

Michael Douglas portrays the president of the United States.
portrayal
noun [ C ] us /pɔrˈtreɪ·əl, poʊr-/

A lot of people felt the film wasn’t quite an accurate portrayal.

(Definition of “portray” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)