[verb im-pur-suh-neyt; adjective im-pur-suh-nit, -neyt]

verb (used with object), im·per·son·at·ed, im·per·son·at·ing.

to assume the character or appearance of; pretend to be: He was arrested for impersonating a police officer.
to mimic the voice, mannerisms, etc., of (a person) in order to entertain.
to act or play the part of; personate.
Archaic. to represent in personal or bodily form; personify; typify.


embodied in a person; invested with personality.

Origin of impersonate

First recorded in 1615–25; im-1 + person + -ate1
Related formsim·per·son·a·tion, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for impersonate

portray, imitate, mimic, represent, play, ditto, do, perform, fake, mirror, act, enact, ape, personate, playact

Examples from the Web for impersonate

Contemporary Examples of impersonate

Historical Examples of impersonate

  • They intrude here, to impersonate the Nine Worthies before the two Courts.

    William Shakespeare

    John Masefield

  • Now when I am sixty-three I shall begin to impersonate children.

    The Merry-Go-Round

    Carl Van Vechten

  • What would he have given to impersonate her lover in the piece!

    A Laodicean

    Thomas Hardy

  • She proceeded to impersonate both that heroine and Madame La Farge.

    The Cricket

    Marjorie Cooke

  • He used the choruses as Handel did, to impersonate the mass of people.

    How Music Developed

    W. J. Henderson

British Dictionary definitions for impersonate


verb (tr)

to pretend to be (another person)
to imitate the character, mannerisms, etc, of (another person)
rare to play the part or character of
an archaic word for personify
Derived Formsimpersonation, nounimpersonator, 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

Word Origin and History for impersonate

1620s, "to invest with a personality," from assimilated form of Latin in- "into, in" (see in- (2)) + persona "person." Sense of "to assume the person or character of" is first recorded 1715. Earlier in same sense was personate (1610s). Related: Impersonated; impersonating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper