tr.v. por·trayed, por·tray·ing, por·trays
1. To depict or represent pictorially; make a picture of: The painter portrays a typical country scene.
2. To describe or represent in words: The author portrays the world of the fantastically wealthy.
3. To describe or depict in a certain way: The book portrays her as hardworking and driven.
4. To represent dramatically, as on the stage: The actor portrays an obsessed lover in the film.
[Middle English portraien, from Old French portraire : por-, forth (from Latin prō-, forth; see PRO-1) + traire, to draw (from Latin trahere, to drag).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.