What does personification mean?

Definitions for personification
pərˌsɒn ə fɪˈkeɪ ʃənper·son·i·fi·ca·tion

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word personification.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. personificationnoun

    a person who represents an abstract quality

    "she is the personification of optimism"

  2. personification, prosopopoeianoun

    representing an abstract quality or idea as a person or creature

  3. personification, incarnationnoun

    the act of attributing human characteristics to abstract ideas etc.


  1. personificationnoun

    A person, thing or name typifying a certain quality or idea; an embodiment or exemplification.

    Adolf Hitler was the personification of anti-Semitism.

  2. personificationnoun

    A figure of speech, prosopopeia, in which an inanimate object or an abstraction is given human qualities.

    The writer used personification to convey her ideas.

  3. personificationnoun

    An artistic representation of an abstract quality as a human

    The Grim Reaper is a personification of death.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Personificationnoun

    Prosopopœia; the change of things to persons: as,

    Etymology: from personify.

    Confusion heard his voice. John Milton.


  1. Personification

    Personification occurs when a thing or abstraction is represented as a person, in literature or art, as a type of anthropomorphic metaphor. The type of personification discussed here excludes passing literary effects such as "Shadows hold their breath", and covers cases where a personification appears as a character in literature, or a human figure in art. The technical term for this, since ancient Greece, is prosopopoeia. In the arts many things are commonly personified. These include numerous types of places, especially cities, countries and the four continents, elements of the natural world such as the months or Four Seasons, Four Elements, Four Winds, Five Senses, and abstractions such as virtues, especially the four cardinal virtues and seven deadly sins, the nine Muses, or death. In many polytheistic early religions, deities had a strong element of personification, suggested by descriptions such as "god of". In ancient Greek religion, and the related ancient Roman religion, this was perhaps especially strong, in particular among the minor deities. Many such deities, such as the tyches or tutelary deities for major cities, survived the arrival of Christianity, now as symbolic personifications stripped of religious significance. An exception was the winged goddess of Victory, Victoria/Nike, who developed into the visualisation of the Christian angel.Generally, personifications lack much in the way of narrative myths, although classical myth at least gave many of them parents among the major Olympian deities. The iconography of several personifications "maintained a remarkable degree of continuity from late antiquity until the 18th century". Female personifications tend to outnumber male ones, at least until modern national personifications, many of which are male. Personifications are very common elements in allegory, and historians and theorists of personification complain that the two have been too often confused, or discussion of them dominated by allegory. Single images of personifications tend to be titled as an "allegory", arguably incorrectly. By the late 20th century personification seemed largely out of fashion, but the semi-personificatory superhero figures of many comic book series came in the 21st century to dominate popular cinema in a number of superhero film franchises. According to Ernst Gombrich, "we tend to take it for granted rather than to ask questions about this extraordinary predominantly feminine population which greets us from the porches of cathedrals, crowds around our public monuments, marks our coins and our banknotes, and turns up in our cartoons and our posters; these females variously attired, of course, came to life on the medieval stage, they greeted the Prince on his entry into a city, they were invoked in innumerable speeches, they quarrelled or embraced in endless epics where they struggled for the soul of the hero or set the action going, and when the medieval versifier went out on one fine spring morning and lay down on a grassy bank, one of these ladies rarely failed to appear to him in his sleep and to explain her own nature to him in any number of lines".

Webster Dictionary

  1. Personificationnoun

    the act of personifying; impersonation; embodiment

  2. Personificationnoun

    a figure of speech in which an inanimate object or abstract idea is represented as animated, or endowed with personality; prosopop/ia; as, the floods clap their hands

  3. Etymology: [Cf. F. personnification.]

Editors Contribution

  1. personification

    The attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form. A figure intended to represent an abstract quality.

    The car was suffering and in need of some TLC.

    Submitted by anonymous on March 18, 2019  

Suggested Resources

  1. Personification

    Personification vs. Anthropomorphism -- In this Grammar.com article you will learn the differences between the words Personification and Anthropomorphism.

Matched Categories

How to pronounce personification?

How to say personification in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of personification in Chaldean Numerology is: 7

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of personification in Pythagorean Numerology is: 2

Examples of personification in a Sentence

  1. David Letterman:

    We've lost 5,000 fellow New Yorkers, and you can feel it. You can feel it, you can see it, rudolph Giuliani is the personification of courage.

  2. Susan J. Bissonette:

    An optimist is the human personification of spring.

  3. Gerry Bowler:

    Merchants seized on this guy right away, they immediately saw the possibility that this personification could be useful in their selling.

  4. Ken Wong:

    The thing people are getting excited about with this team is not just how they play, which by itself is important, but it is the whole nature of team and it starts with Leonard, he is the personification of what Canadians want their heroes to be; a stoic, understated, works hard and just goes out and gets the job done.

  5. Gil Robertson:

    ( The movie) is the personification of the spirit of multiculturalism and the willingness to cast diversely. If there was a true willingness to see diversity, that would happen.

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Translations for personification

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"personification." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 4 Jun 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/personification>.

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    property that provides tax income for local governments
    • A. accessory
    • B. rateables
    • C. endeavor
    • D. rogue

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