1461, "body of a person" (with regard to appearance), from O.Fr. personage (13c.), from M.L. personaticum (1057), from persona (see person). Meaning "a person of high rank or distinction" is attested from 1503; as a longer way to say person, the word was in use from c.1555
(but often slyly ironical, with suggestion that the subject is overly self-important).