verb (used with object), per·son·i·fied, per·son·i·fy·ing.
  1. to attribute human nature or character to (an inanimate object or an abstraction), as in speech or writing.
  2. to represent (a thing or abstraction) in the form of a person, as in art.
  3. to embody (a quality, idea, etc.) in a real person or a concrete thing.
  4. to be an embodiment or incarnation of; typify: He personifies the ruthless ambition of some executives.
  5. to personate.

Origin of personify

1720–30; person + -ify; compare French personnifier, Italian personificare
Related formsper·son·i·fi·a·ble, adjectiveper·son·i·fi·ant, adjectiveper·son·i·fi·er, nounun·per·son·i·fied, adjectiveun·per·son·i·fy·ing, adjective

Synonyms for personify Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for personifying

Historical Examples of personifying

  • 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.

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for personifying


verb -fies, -fying or -fied (tr)
  1. to attribute human characteristics to (a thing or abstraction)
  2. to represent (an abstract quality) in human or animal form
  3. (of a person or thing) to represent (an abstract quality), as in art or literature
  4. to be the embodiment of
Derived Formspersonifiable, adjectivepersonifier, 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 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