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[per-son-uh-fi-key-shuh n] /pərˌsɒn ə fɪˈkeɪ ʃən/
the attribution of human nature or character to animals, inanimate objects, or abstract notions, especially as a rhetorical figure.
the representation of a thing or abstraction in the form of a person, as in art.
the person or thing embodying a quality or the like; an embodiment or incarnation:
He is the personification of tact.
an imaginary person or creature conceived or figured to represent a thing or abstraction.
the act of personifying; the attributing of human qualities to an animal, object, or abstraction:
The author's personification of the farm animals made for an enchanting children's book.
a character portrayal or representation in a dramatic or literary work.
1745-55; personi(fy) + -fication
Related forms
personificator, noun
nonpersonification, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for personification
  • We take breathing as a right, and countless millions of people look to athletes as the personification of human fitness.
  • Giving a wild animal in a story a human name is an example of personification.
  • Boone is worthy of historical attention as a personification of the westward movement.
  • Loki is the personification of sin.
  • But the personification of a period of time is too abstract an idea to be primitive.
  • This area is the symbolic personification of the world.
  • Centralisation, personification and idealisation of power drive Russia's political culture.
  • You may consider him to be the personification of political ambition.
  • Welcome to “recession chic” and its personification, the “recessionista,” the new name for the style maven on a budget.
  • Greek mythology, personification of the human soul.
British Dictionary definitions for personification


the attribution of human characteristics to things, abstract ideas, etc, as for literary or artistic effect
the representation of an abstract quality or idea in the form of a person, creature, etc, as in art and literature
a person or thing that personifies
a person or thing regarded as an embodiment of a quality: he is the personification of optimism
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 personification

1755, noun of action from personify. Sense of "embodiment of a quality in a person" is attested from 1807.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for personification

figure of speech in which human characteristics are attributed to an abstract quality, animal, or inanimate object. An example is "The Moon doth with delight / Look round her when the heavens are bare" (William Wordsworth, "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood," 1807). Another is "Death lays his icy hand on kings" (James Shirley, "The Glories of Our Blood and State," 1659). Personification has been used in European poetry since Homer and is particularly common in allegory; for example, the medieval morality play Everyman (c. 1500) and the Christian prose allegory Pilgrim's Progress (1678) by John Bunyan contain characters such as Death, Fellowship, Knowledge, Giant Despair, Sloth, Hypocrisy, and Piety. Personification became almost an automatic mannerism in 18th-century Neoclassical poetry, as exemplified by these lines from Thomas Gray's "An Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard": Here rests his head upon the lap of earthA youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown:Fair science frowned not on his humble birth,And Melancholy marked him for her own.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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