Definition of personify in English:



  • 1 Represent (a quality or concept) by a figure in human form.

    ‘public pageants and dramas in which virtues and vices were personified’
    • ‘In many ways it was simply another reflection of the very human tendency to personify the forces of evil.’
    • ‘Because prejudice is not personified I believe that it was not to be the object of Jane Austen's sharper criticism.’
    • ‘Tan created the characters of Rose, Waverly, June and Lena to personify her own questions and concerns.’
    • ‘The soul, the mind, moral entities, mental functions, have always, in literature as well as in the arts and folklore, been personified in human or animal form.’
    • ‘Where nature is usually personified as a woman, and man the destroyer, here the roles are reversed.’
    • ‘She has chosen to personify this trait in several characters in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ although it is hard to find one character who portrays prejudice alone, throughout the novel.’
    • ‘The choir likewise represent not only the blessed and angels, but vices personified; they are also used as a chorus - in the sense of Greek tragedy - to comment on the action.’
    • ‘Images of Charity personified often show a child suckling at each of her breasts.’
    • ‘Her long, thick hair, which is rendered with rubbed graphite, expands as it falls like water to the image's edge; she might almost be personifying a natural force.’
    • ‘In this allegory full of poetic images, wisdom is personified as a woman - a kind of hostess with the mostest.’
    • ‘It is true, as others have argued, that Byron personifies the imperial and despotic nature of Russia in his portrait of the queen, but this is only a partial rendering of a significant section of the poem as a whole.’
    1. 1.1Attribute a personal nature or human characteristics to (something non-human)
      ‘in the poem the oak trees are personified’
      • ‘The trucks seem to personify the pent-up rage that's come to characterise car culture.’
      • ‘I guess if you were to personify them as a human, they'd be the pretty, fresh faced girl next door.’
      • ‘Many people have understood this to be one person because it was written symbolically by personifying the beast as a ‘he’.’
      • ‘She makes a crucial change by powerfully anthropomorphizing the scene: she personifies the landscape, and thus it becomes witness to her pain.’
      • ‘‘Nature,’ as thus personified and deified, was a creation of Ingalls.’
      • ‘I mean, sure, there are plenty of books where the characters are animals, but they're personified animals.’
      • ‘A discussion of agents would be incomplete if we ignored the human tendency to personify machines.’
      • ‘A dream world was born: phantasmagoria, hallucinations, angels in paradise, the sun, moon and stars personified, vividly imagined.’
      • ‘Ultimately, his point - or question, rather - is serious and clear: why must non-humans be personified in order for us to care?’
      • ‘Humans have been personifying animals long before the Sumerians etched their first goat-headed man.’
      humanize, anthropomorphize, personalize
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    2. 1.2Represent or embody (a quality, concept, etc.) in a physical form.
      ‘the car personified motoring fun for two decades’
      • ‘One of the old stock, he personified that exemplary link associated between rural postmen and the community at large.’
      • ‘He personifies superficiality and embodies the fact that they have nothing more to say politically.’
      • ‘In every respect, he was kindness personified and a man of the richest and most sincere nature.’
      • ‘The two major characters personify nearly every unsavory characteristic inherent in human nature.’
      • ‘Boxing champions personify and exemplify every important positive quality that it takes to survive in this world.’
      • ‘Reflecting our multi-faceted natures, each actor broadly personifies an element of her personality.’
      • ‘In their detachment and mobility, these characters personify the movements and uses of capital as they enter speculatively into representations of different cultures.’
      • ‘The character Levi thus personifies the complexity of African diasporan religions in which many facets coexist with one another.’
      • ‘And the young striker was coolness personified as he swivelled and drilled into the bottom corner from 15 yards.’
      • ‘The chief characters at the centre of the two royal events personified this change of mood.’
      • ‘Brad was patience personified as he signed hundreds of photographs for adoring fans.’
      • ‘She is and has been a tremendous asset to the organization and exemplary nursing leader who personifies the essence of distinguished service.’
      • ‘As a brilliant jockey and then winning trainer here, I think that he personifies the spirit of jump racing.’
      • ‘His characters personify determination and inventiveness.’
      • ‘He was kindness personified in everything he did and he was incapable of uttering an ugly or offensive word.’
      • ‘These heroes have served culturally and historically to personify and embody Manifest Destiny, the best of America's imaginary frontier in the flesh.’
      • ‘The longer I sat there, the more he seemed to personify all that is wretched in the pharmaceutical industry.’
      • ‘He personified the pure, blissful soul nature they sought and sensed as the center of themselves.’
      • ‘Like literary writers, nineteenth-century scientists sometimes created characters to embody or personify challenging ideas.’
      • ‘To Kathleen and the children he was kindness personified and was always there to lend a helping hand when anyone was in trouble.’
      epitomize, embody, be the embodiment of, be the incarnation of, typify, exemplify, represent, symbolize, stand for, give human form to, give human shape to, body forth, incarnate, be representative of, encapsulate, manifest
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Early 18th century: from French personnifier, from personne person.