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[verb im-pur-suh-neyt; adjective im-pur-suh-nit, -neyt] /verb ɪmˈpɜr səˌneɪt; adjective 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 impersonate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Dear languishing widow, if you would marry a real man, impersonate youth, beauty and wealth.

    Supreme Personality Delmer Eugene Croft
  • They intrude here, to impersonate the Nine Worthies before the two Courts.

    William Shakespeare John Masefield
  • Without it, anyone might impersonate anyone else he pleased.

    The Standardized Man Stephen Bartholomew
  • She proceeded to impersonate both that heroine and Madame La Farge.

    The Cricket Marjorie Cooke
  • What's he going to do—forge papers, or impersonate somebody?

    The Tower of Oblivion Oliver Onions
  • He used the choruses as Handel did, to impersonate the mass of people.

    How Music Developed W. J. Henderson
British Dictionary definitions for impersonate


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 impersonate

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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