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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.