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[im-pur-suh-nl] /ɪmˈpɜr sə nl/
not personal; without reference or connection to a particular person:
an impersonal remark.
having no personality; devoid of human character or traits:
an impersonal deity.
lacking human emotion or warmth:
an impersonal manner.
  1. (of a verb) having only third person singular forms and rarely if ever accompanied by an expressed subject, as Latin pluit “it is raining,” or regularly accompanied by an empty subject word, as English to rain in It is raining.
  2. (of a pronoun or pronominal reference) indefinite, as French on “one.”.
Grammar. an impersonal verb or pronoun.
Origin of impersonal
From the Late Latin word impersōnālis, dating back to 1510-20. See im-2, personal
Related forms
impersonally, adverb
superimpersonal, adjective
superimpersonally, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for impersonal
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He repeated this in a voice of impersonal courtesy, and went on to the next group.

  • Beautiful she had seemed to him before, but beautiful with a sort of impersonal perfection.

    The Avenger E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • For the difference between the personal and impersonal was not marked to him as to ourselves.

    Philebus Plato
  • That third party or common nature is not social; it is impersonal; is God.

    Essays, First Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • She was calm and impersonal during these interviews, and he tried to be so.

    Fair Harbor

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln
British Dictionary definitions for impersonal


without reference to any individual person; objective: an impersonal assessment
devoid of human warmth or sympathy; cold: an impersonal manner
not having human characteristics: an impersonal God
(grammar) (of a verb) having no logical subject. Usually in English the pronoun it is used in such cases as a grammatical subject, as for example in It is raining
(grammar) (of a pronoun) not denoting a person
Derived Forms
impersonality, noun
impersonally, adverb
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 impersonal

mid-15c., a grammatical term, from Late Latin impersonalis, from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + personalis "personal" (see personal). Sense of "not connected with any person" is from 1620s; that of "not endowed with personality" is from 1842. Related: impersonally.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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