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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for personifying
Historical Examples
  • Artists and poets have had a fashion of personifying them as allegorical figures.

    Sir Joshua Reynolds Estelle M. Hurll
  • They were not the offspring of the poetic imagination, personifying the various aspects of nature.

  • The continuity of person is preserved by this fiction, as in Rome it was by personifying the inheritance ad interim.

    The Common Law Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  • Indeed, it was our similarity in this respect that first put the idea of personifying him into my head.

    Hand and Ring Anna Katharine Green
  • While I was clothing your imagination, personifying to you that vile creature!

  • Don Juan is simply conceived as personifying the most direct and vivid affirmation of what Schopenhauer called the "Will to live."

    Musical Criticisms Arthur Johnstone
  • Whatever the hidden ground of policy may be, their thought still clothes itself in personifying language.

    The Common Law Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  • Mr. Darwin's habit of personifying nature has given, as his friend Mr. Wallace says, his readers a good deal of trouble.

    What is Darwinism? Charles Hodge
  • Every one, too, must have noticed the observation of detail a child will show in personifying a particular person.

  • Marta always referred to the castle as the baron; for in her girlhood she had a way of personifying all inanimate things.

    The Last Shot Frederick Palmer
British Dictionary definitions for personifying


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 personifying



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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