Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To depict or represent pictorially; make a picture of.
  • transitive v. To depict or describe in words.
  • transitive v. To represent dramatically, as on the stage. See Synonyms at represent.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To paint or draw the likeness of.
  • v. To describe in words; to convey.
  • v. To play a role; to depict a character or person.
  • v. To adorn with pictures.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To paint or draw the likeness of.
  • transitive v. Hence, figuratively, to describe in words.
  • transitive v. To adorn with pictures.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To depict; reproduce the lineaments of; draw or paint to the life.
  • To depict or describe vividly in words; describe graphically or vividly.
  • To adorn with pictures or portraits.
  • Synonyms and To delineate, sketch, represent.
  • To paint.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. make a portrait of
  • v. represent abstractly, for example in a painting, drawing, or sculpture
  • v. assume or act the character of
  • v. portray in words

Etymologies

Middle English portraien, from Old French portraire : por-, forth (from Latin prō-, forth; see pro-1) + traire, to draw (from Latin trahere, to drag).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle French portraire. (Wiktionary)

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