a human being, whether an adult or child: The table seats four persons.
a human being as distinguished from an animal or a thing.
an individual human being who likes or prefers something specified (used in combination): I've never been a cat person.
Sociology. an individual human being, especially with reference to social relationships and behavioral patterns as conditioned by the culture.
Philosophy. a self-conscious or rational being.
the actual self or individual personality of a human being: You ought not to generalize, but to consider the person you are dealing with.
the body of a living human being, sometimes including the clothes being worn: He had no money on his person.
the body in its external aspect: an attractive person to look at.
a character, part, or role, as in a play or story.
an individual of distinction or importance.
a person not entitled to social recognition or respect.
Law. a human being (natural person ) or a group of human beings, a corporation, a partnership, an estate, or other legal entity (artificial person, or juristic person ) recognized by law as having rights and duties.
Grammar. a category found in many languages that is used to distinguish between the speaker of an utterance and the person or people being spoken to or about. In English there are three persons in the pronouns, the first represented by I and we, the second by you, and the third by he, she, it, and they. Most verbs have distinct third person singular forms in the present tense, as writes; the verb be has, in addition, a first person singular form am.
Theology. any of the three hypostases or modes of being in the Trinity, namely the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Idioms about person
be one's own person, to be free from restrictions, control, or dictatorial influence: Now that she's working, she feels that she's her own person.
in person, in one's own bodily presence; personally: Applicants are requested to apply in person.
Using people as a plural of person has not always been free of controversy. From the mid nineteenth to the late twentieth century, the use of people instead of persons was hotly contested; and among some news publications, book publishers, and writers of usage books, it was expressly forbidden. To quell the fires of the argument, some usage authorities attempted to regulate use of the two forms—recommending persons when counting a small, specific number of individuals ( Three persons were injured in the accident ) and people when referring to a large, round, or uncountable number ( More than two thousand people bought tickets on the first day; People crowded around the exhibit, blocking it from view ).
But efforts to impose such precise rules in language usually fail. This rule does not appear in currently popular style manuals, and if such a rule still exists in anyone's mind, it is mainly ignored. People is the plural form that most people are most comfortable with most of the time. Persons seems excessively formal and stilted in ordinary conversation or casual writing. One would probably not say, “How many persons came to your birthday party?” In legal or formal contexts, however, persons is often the form of choice ( The police are looking for any person or persons who may have witnessed the crime; Occupancy by more than 75 persons is prohibited by the fire marshal ). In addition, persons is often used when we pluralize person in a set phrase ( missing persons; persons of interest ). Otherwise, the modern consensus is that people is the preferred plural. Persons is not wrong, but it is increasingly rare.
- mul·ti·per·son, adjective
- su·per·per·son, noun
Other definitions for -person (2 of 2)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use person in a sentence
“I found him to to be an interesting person,” Krauss said of the first impression.Sleazy Billionaire’s Double Life Featured Beach Parties With Stephen Hawking | M.L. Nestel | January 8, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
A Wall Street person should not be allowed to help oversee the Dodd-Frank reforms.
What I had “on the girls” were some remarkably brave first-person accounts.I Tried to Warn You About Sleazy Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein in 2003 | Vicky Ward | January 7, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
Scalise never would have spoken to EURO had Duke been there in person.
Pentagon leaders agree to a person that the U.S. war against ISIS is succeeding.Pentagon Doesn’t Know How Many People It’s Killed in the ISIS War | Nancy A. Youssef | January 7, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
Woman is mistress of the art of completely embittering the life of the person on whom she depends.Pearls of Thought | Maturin M. Ballou
But if what I told him were true, he was still at a loss how a kingdom could run out of its estate like a private person.Gulliver's Travels | Jonathan Swift
Levee: a ceremonious visit received by a distinguished person in the morning.Gulliver's Travels | Jonathan Swift
He wished her mother had not been quite such an appalling person, fat and painted.Rosemary in Search of a Father | C. N. Williamson
But she told Grandfather Mole that it was all right—that she knew a person of his age ought not to go without his breakfast.The Tale of Grandfather Mole | Arthur Scott Bailey
British Dictionary definitions for person (1 of 3)
an individual human being
the body of a human being, sometimes including his or her clothing: guns hidden on his person
a grammatical category into which pronouns and forms of verbs are subdivided depending on whether they refer to the speaker, the person addressed, or some other individual, thing, etc
a human being or a corporation recognized in law as having certain rights and obligations
philosophy a being characterized by consciousness, rationality, and a moral sense, and traditionally thought of as consisting of both a body and a mind or soul
archaic a character or role; guise
actually present: the author will be there in person
without the help or intervention of others
British Dictionary definitions for Person (2 of 3)
Christianity any of the three hypostases existing as distinct in the one God and constituting the Trinity. They are the First Person, the Father, the Second Person, the Son, and the Third Person, the Holy Ghost
British Dictionary definitions for -person (3 of 3)
sometimes used instead of -man and -woman or -lady: chairperson; salesperson
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
Cultural definitions for person
An inflectional form (see inflection) of pronouns and verbs that distinguishes between the person who speaks (first person), the person who is spoken to (second person), and the person who is spoken about (third person). The pronoun or verb may be singular or plural. For example:
first person singular: I walk.
second person singular: you walk.
third person singular: he/she/it walks.
first person plural: we walk.
second person plural: you walk.
third person plural: they walk.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Other Idioms and Phrases with person
In addition to the idiom beginning with person
- person of color
- feel like oneself (a new person)
- in person
- own person, one's
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.