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[per-son-uh-fahy] /pərˈsɒn əˌfaɪ/
verb (used with object), personified, personifying.
to attribute human nature or character to (an inanimate object or an abstraction), as in speech or writing.
to represent (a thing or abstraction) in the form of a person, as in art.
to embody (a quality, idea, etc.) in a real person or a concrete thing.
to be an embodiment or incarnation of; typify:
He personifies the ruthless ambition of some executives.
to personate.
Origin of personify
1720-30; person + -ify; compare French personnifier, Italian personificare
Related forms
personifiable, adjective
personifiant, adjective
personifier, noun
unpersonified, adjective
unpersonifying, adjective
4. represent, exemplify, incorporate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for personify
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Like mythology, Greek philosophy has a tendency to personify ideas.

    Sophist Plato
  • This is only a convenience, because it seems necessary to personify.

    The Book of the Damned Charles Fort
  • That man has a strong motive for my death, and to personify me afterwards.

    Rattlin the Reefer Edward Howard
  • Now it is often convenient to personify Nature, but we must not be misled.

    Parenthood and Race Culture Caleb Williams Saleeby
  • It is natural for us to personify and envelop in mystery the things that we do not understand.

    Plain English

    Marian Wharton
  • There is in the human mind a tendency to personify abstractions.

British Dictionary definitions for personify


verb (transitive) -fies, -fying, -fied
to attribute human characteristics to (a thing or abstraction)
to represent (an abstract quality) in human or animal form
(of a person or thing) to represent (an abstract quality), as in art or literature
to be the embodiment of
Derived Forms
personifiable, adjective
personifier, 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 personify

1727 "to attribute personal form to things or abstractions" (especially as an artistic or literary technique), from person + -fy or from French personnifier (17c.), from personne. Meaning "to represent, embody" attested from 1806. Related: Personified; personifying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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