Definition of impersonal in US English:



  • 1Not influenced by, showing, or involving personal feelings.

    ‘the impersonal march of progress’
    • ‘The last thing anyone wants to encounter when reading about newly deceased friends or family is impersonal demands for personal information, all in the name of the almighty dollar.’
    • ‘Without a human being, it was not possible to manage knowledge, or extract it from raw data and impersonal information.’
    • ‘E-mails provide instant communication and yet distance the sender because they're so impersonal.’
    • ‘Hugging didn't seem impersonal, nor did it say she was ready to kiss him yet.’
    • ‘I know that my last several entries here (with a few exceptions) have been rather impersonal.’
    • ‘One of the hallmarks of her column, however, is its impersonal nature.’
    • ‘Living in a digital age makes communication so much easier, yet perhaps more impersonal.’
    • ‘That hostility is triggering a backlash against both existing regimes and the impersonal forces of globalization.’
    • ‘The impersonal nature of remote collaboration increased their productivity and facilitated collaborative intellectual contributions.’
    • ‘It might suggest a curt, efficient, formal, impersonal, or even angry attitude about the conversation.’
    • ‘She knew she'd have to be a little impersonal if she were to help her friend.’
    • ‘I was going to do this with bullet points, but in the end it seemed a bit impersonal.’
    • ‘Roberts' tone of voice was as impersonal as ever.’
    • ‘Living in one place, you are in constant touch with another, not just through impersonal information, but through sustained contact, daily exchange.’
    • ‘But there is something a little impersonal about the whole affair.’
    • ‘Commercialism is getting more brutal than ever and people are getting more impersonal than ever before.’
    • ‘The information media are impersonal and pretend to be objective.’
    • ‘But a book is always an extension of its author, however impersonal the subject matter.’
    • ‘Impersonal forces, analogous to gravity in the physical world, shape outcomes.’
    • ‘The subject matter may be impersonal and unemotional but it doesn't make it any more enjoyable to know that.’
    neutral, unbiased, non-partisan, non-discriminatory, unprejudiced, unswayed, objective, detached, disinterested, dispassionate, free from discrimination, without favouritism, with no axe to grind, without fear or favour
    aloof, distant, remote, reserved, withdrawn, unemotional, unfeeling, unsentimental, dispassionate, passionless, cold, cool, frigid, unresponsive, indifferent, unconcerned
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    1. 1.1 (of a place or organization) large, featureless, and anonymous.
      ‘large, impersonal institutions’
      • ‘In addition, many Southerners felt these churches to be too large, formal, and impersonal to meet their spiritual needs.’
      • ‘The impersonal nature of major companies is no accident and at the end of the day, too often there is no one person who can be called to account when something goes wrong.’
      • ‘Not only does she inspire respect and reverence from the kids, they see her as the mother they never had, indeed the mother they ran away from at home, even as they desperately need her in the impersonal streets of Johannesburg.’
      • ‘At the time, however, my dad deplored the feeling that he was becoming just another number in an impersonal organization, a cog in the machine.’
      • ‘But online stores are cold, impersonal places devoid of any sense of human contact, where every book is merely an itemised commodity.’
      • ‘I thought I'd left that impersonal world behind.’
      • ‘But what about larger, more impersonal workplaces, such as factories and supermarkets?’
      • ‘The second part of the film concerns her search through the bewildering urban landscape, the impersonal world of the city putting seemingly insurmountable obstacles in her way at every step.’
      • ‘The impersonal nature of the facility has encouraged a lot of motorists to inform the police about accidents.’
      • ‘She says department stores with their armies of sales people are too impersonal.’
      • ‘The regular corporate structure is so impersonal, they don't get to know the artist.’
      • ‘Feelings of loneliness for family and friends were constant in the impersonal environment to which they had come.’
      • ‘I'll never understand how people can take such pleasure in struggling a wonky trolley around endless impersonal aisles of soullessly stacked goods week after week after week.’
      • ‘It is a far cry from the hectic, impersonal atmosphere of a hospital ward.’
      • ‘Eighteen per cent of respondents said they preferred other methods of recruitment such as agencies, and would not use a job search website again because of its impersonal nature and lack of accuracy.’
      • ‘You may have a tendency to avoid gyms because you think of them as unattractive, boring or impersonal places.’
      • ‘It also helps a patient feel far more comfortable than in the more centralised and impersonal environment of a larger complex.’
      • ‘I couldn't bear the thought of her lying in some impersonal place with other people looking at her.’
      • ‘Mission work is not just limited to raising money for impersonal organizations.’
      • ‘They shifted authority in public life from the personalities of notable citizens to impersonal organizations.’
      characterless, unremarkable, nondescript, faceless, colourless, grey
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  • 2Not existing as a person; having no personality.

    ‘he gradually came to believe in an impersonal God’
    • ‘God is not a personal heavenly Father but an impersonal force.’
  • 3Grammar
    (of a verb) used only with a formal subject (in English usually it) and expressing an action not attributable to a definite subject (as in it is snowing).

    • ‘The it in suffice it to say is an impersonal or indefinite pronoun, one that functions as a grammatical placeholder without supplying much real meaning.’
    • ‘A person is now ‘impersonal,’ as in an impersonal verb construction, as in ‘it is raining.’’
    • ‘In Russian, this sentence is impersonal, without a subject or a predicate, and only Russian case endings indicate the relations between words.’
    • ‘As with impersonal constructions, referentially deficient subjects usually occur in the independent clause.’
    • ‘Both Bactrian and Pagolak recall the mysterious Ursprache of Borges's Tlön, which contains no nouns but only impersonal verbs, and in which famous poems consist of a single enormous word.’


Late Middle English (in impersonal (sense 3)): from late Latin impersonalis, from Latin in- ‘not’ + personalis (see personal).