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[pawr-trit, -treyt, pohr-] /ˈpɔr trɪt, -treɪt, ˈpoʊr-/
a likeness of a person, especially of the face, as a painting, drawing, or photograph:
a gallery of family portraits.
a verbal picture or description, usually of a person:
a biography that provides a fascinating portrait of an 18th-century rogue.
1560-70; < Middle French: a drawing, image, etc., noun use of past participle of portraire to portray
Related forms
portraitlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for portraits
  • In his office he had framed copies of portraits of these scientists.
  • Character writers had introduced their portraits with a pointed or fanciful definition.
  • The result is a gallery of contemporary portraits, faithfully reproduced, and tempered with wit.
  • Valery specializes in portraits of people in the arts-actors, writers, musicians.
  • Yet now millions of people have quite a clear idea-based on replicas of copies of rather poorly painted portraits.
  • He likes to collect portraits in pairs-mainly husbands and wives.
  • Much of his work is devoted to portraits of the vocation of the writer.
  • They present almost comically contradictory portraits.
  • portraits by itinerant artists vivify a genre that was scuttled by the invention of photography.
  • The undeniable ugliness of his portraits of the poor is bound to put off some contemporary readers.
British Dictionary definitions for portraits


/ˈpɔːtrɪt; -treɪt/
  1. a painting, drawing, sculpture, photograph, or other likeness of an individual, esp of the face
  2. (as modifier): a portrait gallery
a verbal description or picture, esp of a person's character
(printing) (of a publication or an illustration in a publication) of greater height than width Compare landscape (sense 5a)
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 portraits



1560s, "a figure, drawn or painted," a back formation from portraiture or directly from Middle French portrait, from Old French portret (13c.), noun use of past participle of portraire "to paint, depict" (see portray). Especially of the head and face of a person.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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