Definition of person in US English:


nounPlural people, Plural persons

  • 1A human being regarded as an individual.

    ‘the porter was the last person to see her’
    ‘she is a person of astonishing energy’
    • ‘There are many more people to meet in London and many more places in which to meet them.’
    • ‘Some things may have got out of hand but it was a time when people became more liberated.’
    • ‘Some of the people who have been here talked about how he helped them through so much.’
    • ‘It is trying to be all things to all sorts of rich people but is this a recipe for confusion?’
    • ‘I'm usually a very calm person, but rage tends to build up and build up, and when it blows… hoo boy.’
    • ‘She is the ultimate professional as well as the most kind and loving person.’
    • ‘I was at the Finish Line tent when this happened, and I was the most senior staff person present.’
    • ‘He is a quiet and private person, but he has a presence that the players and now the press obviously respect.’
    • ‘He would've made a good king, if it wasn't for the fact that he was an extremely evil looking person.’
    • ‘And I think that for that to be the case, I'd need to be a much less complex person.’
    • ‘Many thought he might be the right high profile person to take over this new department.’
    • ‘Putting on a show of two people at once is a complex business on all sorts of levels.’
    • ‘Ian can eat enough food for four of five people, but he uses all that energy up on stage.’
    • ‘Does that mean that inside each evil person there remains some good?’
    • ‘You're a warm and caring person, and you've made such a difference in my life.’
    • ‘We just want to get to the bottom of this, for the sake of other people as well as ourselves.’
    • ‘Her comments are not appreciated at all by the people who used to see her as a key figure.’
    • ‘I once got a very clear demonstration of just what a kind and sweet person Annie is.’
    • ‘They were innovative at the time and a lot of people warned me that the idea would not work.’
    • ‘For many societies, the human being is the person who has learned and obeys the community's rules.’
    human being, individual, man, woman, human, being, living soul, soul, mortal, creature, fellow
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Used in legal or formal contexts to refer to an unspecified individual.
      ‘the entrance fee is $10.00 per person’
      • ‘It is not standard practice in an ordinary domestic context to warn a person of his impending arrest.’
      • ‘The legal protection of persons established in the Community would also be undermined.’
      • ‘Similarly, a marriage, we might say, is a change in the legal relationship between two persons.’
      • ‘However, null subjects are sanctioned only in certain persons and certain syntactic contexts.’
      • ‘Two persons per campus were given workshop training on how and when to use it.’
      • ‘I characterise the means as being preventing or inhibiting persons from asserting legal rights.’
      • ‘These are persons whose legal status may be uncertain, as one may not be sure whether they are to be regarded as combatants or civilians.’
      • ‘He makes a rough population estimate of four million on this basis for the whole area, or six persons per square kilometre.’
      • ‘The applicant submits that a person cannot obtain any legal right through the commission of a criminal offence.’
      • ‘The 12 scales, if they are ordered, will mean one set for every 46 persons or fewer than ten persons per scale per day.’
      • ‘Remember, your version of the bill also permitted legal representation for the persons so caught up.’
      • ‘On an average, 141 persons have died per year at unmanned level crossings during the last decade.’
      • ‘The Sky Bus will ply through the city's main junctions, carrying 15,000 persons per hour.’
      • ‘It is confined entirely to communications which take place for the purpose of obtaining legal advice from professional persons.’
      • ‘Consideration is to be given to the utility of including some persons having legal experience.’
      • ‘How far should the law go in criminalizing appropriations of property from persons other than the legal owner?’
      • ‘It is another thing to say that the person holding the legal title is not the owner.’
      • ‘They also provide employment to a minimum of 10 persons per shop, mostly women.’
      • ‘The original proposal could have brought into the chair a person or persons with no legal background.’
      • ‘There is no effective legal redress if a person is prevented from getting on a plane.’
    2. 1.2with modifier An individual characterized by a preference or liking for a specified thing.
      ‘she's not a cat person’
      • ‘I'm not a dog person generally, but this chocolate Labrador is utterly gorgeous.’
      • ‘I mean, Julie seems more of a cat person, while Jon would probably go for either a puppy or a really huge dog.’
      • ‘He wasn't a huge horse person and the animals knew it and didn't treat him that well.’
      • ‘Call me an old rat bag and I will brush it off with relative good humour, but call me a cat person and I might have to punch your lights out.’
      • ‘I'm not a single malt person like some whisky people I know are, but that stuff makes me astonishingly happy.’
      • ‘She learned his favorite color was red, that he was more of a dog person than a cat person.’
      • ‘He's not really a sweater person, preferring the comfort of polyester fleece to wool.’
      • ‘Leaving, the son says that his dad doesn't know anything about dogs, he's a cat person.’
      • ‘I'm not really a cat person but there's something about this character that melts my wee heart.’
      • ‘They're really good critters, but our pal who has them has decided he's just not a cat person.’
      individual, creature, fellow, man, woman
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 A character in a play or story.
      ‘his previous roles in the person of a fallible cop’
      ego, i, oneself, persona, identity, character, personality, psyche, soul, spirit, mind, intellect, inner man, inner person, inner woman, inner self, one's innermost feelings, one's heart of hearts
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4 An individual's body.
      ‘I have publicity photographs on my person at all times’
      • ‘Have a pen available on your person, and if paper is not available, write it on your hand.’
      • ‘He does not want to publicise the fact that he carries large quantities of cash on his person in case he becomes a target for thieves.’
      • ‘The only thing that might have made her distinguishable in a crowd was the amount of jewellery she wore about her person.’
      • ‘They asked me if I could account for the explosives residue that had been found on my person.’
      • ‘I keep this throughout my holiday in a safe place, somewhere about my person.’
      • ‘He didn't have one on his person, the obstacle equipment were stored in one of the containers near the centre of the plateau.’
      • ‘Rumor also had it that he always carried a knife concealed somewhere on his person and was not above using it in a pinch either.’
      • ‘It all went swimmingly until last week, when a nurse spotted Noelle with drugs about her person.’
      • ‘He was short, and reeked of cigars even though there were none in the house or on his person.’
      • ‘No papers were found on his person, even though the law required everyone to carry an official identity card at all times.’
      • ‘You begin to get paranoid when they start asking you about any metal you might have on your person.’
      • ‘As such they are often seen as soft targets for attacks on their person and their vehicle.’
      • ‘As with most bar staff in LA, I have a script on my person to show to producers and directors.’
      • ‘Within a day or so you forget that you ever had anything so horrific occurring on your person.’
      • ‘He was rumbled for the nefarious practice of producing cards from a pack concealed on his person.’
      • ‘He wasn't from the city of course, so perhaps he had just popped out without the A to Z street map about his person.’
      • ‘The answer is to keep the phone on your person at all times, or securely attached to your handbag.’
      • ‘The missing money was soon also found on his person and, the thief aside, everyone returned home happy.’
      • ‘My heart goes out to this lady and I would apologise to her for this attack on her person.’
      • ‘For occasions where you want to carry stuff on your person more unobtrusively, go for the sewn up pocket option.’
      body, self
      View synonyms
  • 2Grammar
    A category used in the classification of pronouns, possessive determiners, and verb forms, according to whether they indicate the speaker (first person), the addressee (second person), or a third party (third person).

    • ‘There were some interjections in the second person that were not very savoury.’
    • ‘When civilians addressed a soldier, they did so in the second person singular, as to a child or pet.’
    • ‘Many are self-referential, often addressing the reader in the second person.’
    • ‘For a start there was a large number of interjections in the second person, which I presume related to me.’
    • ‘This narrative is told in the second person in the form of a memoir the writer addresses to herself.’
  • 3Christian Theology
    Each of the three modes of being of God, namely the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit, who together constitute the Trinity.

    • ‘The same idea must be carried further and applied not only to the Logos himself, but to the other persons of the holy Trinity.’
    • ‘Even within the Trinity, the persons exist separately only in relation to one another.’
    • ‘It is the understanding that there is one God in three persons: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.’
    • ‘None of the persons of the Trinity can forsake any other person in the Trinity.’
    • ‘As we shall see, each inflection of the triune name identifies all three persons of the Trinity.’


The words people and persons can both be used as the plural of person, but they are not used in exactly the same way. People is by far the more common of the two words and is used in most ordinary contexts: a group of people; there were only about ten people; several thousand people have been rehoused. Persons, on the other hand, tends now to be restricted to official or formal contexts, as in this vehicle is authorized to carry twenty persons; no persons admitted without a pass. In some contexts, persons, by pointing to the individual, may sound less friendly than people: the number should not be disclosed to any unauthorized persons


  • be one's own person

    • Do or be what one wishes or in accordance with one's own character rather than as influenced by others.

      • ‘He's gone to great lengths this year to be his own person, not to be his father's son.’
      • ‘I hadn't taken anyone's money to write anything, so I was my own person.’
      • ‘I think he'll be his own person, and he'll form his own legacy.’
      • ‘He was no angel, but he was his own person and wasn't involved with gangs.’
      • ‘I think the woman should continue to be her own person, because that's what I was attracted to in the beginning.’
      • ‘I thought that you were your own person, you didn't care what other people think!’
      • ‘Certainly, he is his own person, possessing a rather unique personality.’
      • ‘Now with my album I'm able to be my own person and show me and all my songs.’
      • ‘He encouraged you to be your own person, be who you want to be.’
      • ‘Harold is his own person, and he's going to do a terrific job tonight.’
  • in person

    • With the personal presence or action of the individual specified.

      ‘he had to pick up his welfare check in person’
      • ‘There are just some things that might be easier to say in writing than in person.’
      • ‘Otherwise people can go there in person and pay a visit to the kids since the center is not that far.’
      • ‘Anyone wishing to make representations to the inquiry in person must attend the inquiry on the first day.’
      • ‘I do not usually have discussions like this in person because they do not yield much.’
      • ‘There's also an added bonus for people, like myself, who're extremely shy in person.’
      • ‘His thesis is undoubtedly better presented in person rather than in the context of a dry academic paper.’
      • ‘The cyclists who objected to the scheme presented their views in person to the inquiry.’
      • ‘It's fair to say that signing these letters in person is the least that can be expected of a Secretary of Defence.’
      • ‘We hope that one day we can meet to thank you in person, and better articulate our feelings.’
      • ‘A few days later I went in person to report that two parcels had gone missing.’
      physically, in the flesh, personally, bodily, actually
      View synonyms
  • in the person of

    • In the physical form of.

      ‘trouble arrived in the person of a short, mustached Berliner’
      • ‘Joy then introduced the guest celebrity in the person of yours truly, this humble correspondent!’
      • ‘And of course that is exactly what we have now in the person of King George II.’
      • ‘Tibet's message to the world is that it has offered its best in the person of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama to the world community.’
      • ‘The government came off the boat, in the person of the governor and his officials, carrying all the authority of the government in Britain.’
      • ‘However if the cord blood transplant had not been successful, they had a perfectly matched bone marrow donor in the person of Adam, the infant.’
      • ‘She also calls in reinforcements in the person of her sister, Julie.’
      • ‘I decided, or God in the person of the Virgin Mary decided, that the risk was worth taking, and I enlisted my mother to help me.’
      • ‘This was the age of national liberation, and its politics were exemplified, even after his downfall, in the person of Napoleon Bonaparte.’
      • ‘My advice is to immediately contact their embassy in the person of the ambassador and make a statement.’
      • ‘She quickly ends up in Canada, searching out her past in the person of her lost brother.’


Middle English: from Old French persone, from Latin persona ‘actor's mask, character in a play’, later ‘human being’.