[ per-soh-nuh ]
/ pərˈsoʊ nə /
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noun, plural per·so·nae [per-soh-nee], /pərˈsoʊ ni/, per·so·nas.
a person.
personae, the characters in a play, novel, etc.
the narrator of or a character in a literary work, sometimes identified with the author.
(in the psychology of C. G. Jung) the mask or façade presented to satisfy the demands of the situation or the environment and not representing the inner personality of the individual; the public personality (contrasted with anima).
a person's perceived or evident personality, as that of a well-known official, actor, or celebrity; personal image; public role.
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Origin of persona

First recorded in 1905–10, persona is from the Latin word persōna mask, character. See person
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does persona mean?

A persona is the image or personality that a person presents in public or in a specific setting—as opposed to their true self.

The word is especially used in the phrase public persona, referring to the personality that a person presents in public and that they are known for by most people. The term is usually used in reference to public figures, such as politicians and celebrities, to contrast with “what they’re really like.”

For example, someone’s public persona might be outgoing and social, while their true personality is shy and reserved. Of course, it’s also possible that someone’s public persona matches their true personality.

In psychology, the word persona refers to the identity that a person takes on to adapt to the outside world or to a certain situation—their “mask” or facade.

In literature, persona refers to a character in a story, especially the narrator.

Much less commonly, persona can simply refer to a person. The Latin term persona appears in the phrase persona non grata, referring to a person who is not welcome.

The correct plural of persona can be personas or personae. (The plural ending -ae is used in other formal plurals of Latin-derived words, such as antennae—the plural of antenna.)

Example: In public, Ahmad’s persona is that of a confident leader, but in private he’s timid and kind of insecure.

Where does persona come from?

The first records of the word persona in English come from the 1700s. The first records of its use to refer to a person’s public image come from the early 1900s. It’s derived from the Latin persōna, meaning “mask.”

In psychology, the concept of the persona was developed by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung to refer to the “mask” that’s used to hide the true nature of a person (called the anima). This mask gets put on when different situations call for the personality that suits them.

Personas aren’t only associated with celebrities. Regular people use different personas all the time. For example, a person’s persona when they’re in a job interview will be different from the one when they’re in the workplace, which is different from the one they display when they’re out with their friends.

In literature, the word persona often refers to the narrator of the book, which is often associated with the author of the work. In this sense, it’s the voice that the author uses to tell the story.

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What are some other forms related to persona?

  • personas (plural)
  • personae (plural)

What are some synonyms for persona?

What are some words that share a root or word element with persona

What are some words that often get used in discussing persona?

How is persona used in real life?

The word persona is commonly used to discuss the way public figures portray themselves to the world.



Try using persona!

Which of the following terms is an antonym (opposite) of persona?

A. true self
B. inner personality
C. anima
D. all of the above

How to use persona in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for persona

/ (pɜːˈsəʊnə) /

noun plural -nae (-niː)
(often plural) a character in a play, novel, etc
an assumed identity or character
(in Jungian psychology) the mechanism that conceals a person's true thoughts and feelings, esp in his adaptation to the outside world

Word Origin for persona

Latin: mask
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

Medical definitions for persona

[ pər-sōnə ]

n. pl. per•so•nas
The role that one assumes or displays in public or society; one's public image or personality, as distinguished from the inner self.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.