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[v. im-pur-suh-neyt; adj. im-pur-suh-nit, -neyt] /v. ɪmˈpɜr səˌneɪt; adj. ɪmˈpɜr sə nɪt, -ˌneɪt/
verb (used with object), impersonated, impersonating.
to assume the character or appearance of; pretend to be:
He was arrested for impersonating a police officer.
to mimic the voice, mannerisms, etc., of (a person) in order to entertain.
to act or play the part of; personate.
Archaic. to represent in personal or bodily form; personify; typify.
embodied in a person; invested with personality.
Origin of impersonate
1615-25; im-1 + person + -ate1
Related forms
impersonation, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for impersonation
  • He seems to be the impersonation of self-inflicted torments.
  • The impersonation of moral purity in the midst of temptations.
  • Mummery and impersonation in their more primitive forms can be traced back at the universities to the later fourteenth century.
  • Henry taught, in that first scene, through impersonation.
  • Your soupcon step up is a competent impersonation of it.
  • Your pinch step up is a competent impersonation of it.
  • The effect of this impersonation is engaging in the liveliness of the narration and incident.
  • There's always the risk that you re-watch it and find yourself doing an impersonation.
  • His crowning achievement is his impersonation of a visiting nobleman at a weekend party.
  • Prosecutors want to know whether the business development company obtained the phone records of a critic through impersonation.
British Dictionary definitions for impersonation


verb (transitive)
to pretend to be (another person)
to imitate the character, mannerisms, etc, of (another person)
(rare) to play the part or character of
an archaic word for personify
Derived Forms
impersonation, noun
impersonator, noun
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 impersonation

1800, "personification;" 1825 as "an acting of a part or character;" noun of action from impersonate (v.).



1620s, "to invest with a personality," from assimilated form of Latin in- "into, in" (see in- (2)) + persona "person." Sense of "to assume the person or character of" is first recorded 1715. Earlier in same sense was personate (1610s). Related: Impersonated; impersonating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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