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[pawrt-lee, pohrt-] /ˈpɔrt li, ˈpoʊrt-/
adjective, portlier, portliest.
rather heavy or fat; stout; corpulent.
Archaic. stately, dignified, or imposing.
Origin of portly
1520-30; port5 (noun) + -ly
Related forms
portliness, noun
unportly, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for portly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The cook, a long and much-soiled apron enveloping his portly form, looked on interestedly from the door of the galley.

    Four Afloat Ralph Henry Barbour
  • He went up to Mr. Gilbert, a portly man in the back part of the store.

    The Cash Boy Horatio Alger Jr.
  • The storekeeper was a tall, portly man, with a gray mustache and side-whiskers, and a high bald forehead.

    Hiram The Young Farmer Burbank L. Todd
  • He was a portly man, with a loud voice and an air of authority.

    The Telegraph Boy Horatio Alger, Jr.
  • “The Frenchman says our country is the most wonderful in all the world,” said Tommy to the portly Englishman.

    Zigzag Journeys in Europe Hezekiah Butterworth
  • When the portly and well-to-do Briton vociferates "God save the Queen!"

    Glances at Europe Horace Greeley
British Dictionary definitions for portly


adjective -lier, -liest
stout or corpulent
(archaic) stately; impressive
Derived Forms
portliness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from port5 (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
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Word Origin and History for portly

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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