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represent (v.)

late 14c., representen, "show, display, express; bring to mind by description," also "to symbolize, serve as a sign or symbol of (something else, something abstract); serve as the type or embodiment of;" also be a representative of" (the authority of another).

This is from Old French representer "present, show, portray" (12c.) and directly from Latin repraesentare "make present, set in view, show, exhibit, display," from re-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see re-), + praesentare "to present," literally "to place before." Latin praesentare is from praesens, "present, at hand, in sight; immediate; prompt, instant; contemporary," itself from the present participle of the verb præesse "be before (someone or something), be at hand," from prae- "before" (see pre-) + esse "to be" (from PIE root *es- "to be").

Specifically in legal actions, "speak and act with authority on behalf of another by deputed right," by 1500. Also from c. 1500 as "describe as having a specified character or quality." The legislative sense "be accredited deputy for (a body of people) in a legislative assembly" is attested from 1650s.

The meaning "serve as a specimen or example of" is by 1858, at first usually passive (the Dead Rabbits were represented by, etc.). Related: Represented; representing.

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Definitions of represent from WordNet

represent (v.)
take the place of or be parallel or equivalent to;
Synonyms: stand for / correspond
represent (v.)
express indirectly by an image, form, or model; be a symbol;
Synonyms: typify / symbolize / symbolise / stand for
represent (v.)
be representative or typical for;
This period is represented by Beethoven
represent (v.)
be a delegate or spokesperson for; represent somebody's interest or be a proxy or substitute for, as of politicians and office holders representing their constituents, or of a tenant representing other tenants in a housing dispute;
I represent the silent majority
represent (v.)
serve as a means of expressing something;
The flower represents a young girl
represent (v.)
be characteristic of;
Synonyms: exemplify
represent (v.)
form or compose;
This sum represents my entire income for a year
Synonyms: constitute / make up / comprise / be
represent (v.)
be the defense counsel for someone in a trial;
Ms. Smith will represent the defendant
Synonyms: defend
represent (v.)
create an image or likeness of;
The painter represented his wife as a young girl
Synonyms: interpret
represent (v.)
play a role or part;
Synonyms: act / play
represent (v.)
perform (a play), especially on a stage;
Synonyms: stage / present
represent (v.)
describe or present, usually with respect to a particular quality;
He represented this book as an example of the Russian 19th century novel
represent (v.)
point out or draw attention to in protest or remonstrance;
our parents represented to us the need for more caution
represent (v.)
bring forward and present to the mind;
We cannot represent this knowledge to our formal reason
Synonyms: present / lay out
represent (v.)
to establish a mapping (of mathematical elements or sets);
Synonyms: map
From wordnet.princeton.edu