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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 personifying
Historical Examples
  • No doubt this represents a man transformed into, or personifying, a snake.

    Human Animals Frank Hamel
  • When men had come to perceive that it was a force, they had passed the personifying stage.

    The Hearts of Men H. Fielding
  • Artists and poets have had a fashion of personifying them as allegorical figures.

    Sir Joshua Reynolds Estelle M. Hurll
  • Whatever the hidden ground of policy may be, their thought still clothes itself in personifying language.

    The Common Law Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  • 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.
  • They were not the offspring of the poetic imagination, personifying the various aspects of nature.

  • 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
  • The progress has been represented by personifying the ideal and supposing the person to change with each new ideal.

  • Sometimes also the two thieves, and less frequently two female figures, personifying the Jewish and Christian Churches.

  • 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
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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