Dictionary Definition



1 a person who represents an abstract quality; "she is the personification of optimism"
2 representing an abstract quality or idea as a person or creature [syn: prosopopoeia]
3 the act of attributing human characteristics to abstract ideas etc. [syn: incarnation]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A person, thing or name typifying a certain quality or idea; an embodiment or exemplification.
    Adolf Hitler was the personification of anti-Semitism.
  2. 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. An artistic representation of an abstract quality as a human
    The Grim Reaper is a personification of death.


person, thing or name typifying a certain quality or idea
  • Croatian: personifikacija
  • German: Personifizierung
figure of speech
  • Croatian: personifikacija
  • Czech: personifikace, zosobnění
  • German: Personifizierung
artistic representation of an abstract quality as a human
  • Croatian: personifikacija
  • German: Personifizierung

Extensive Definition

A personification is a figure of speech that gives an inanimate object or abstract idea human traits and qualities, such as emotions, desires, sensations, physical gestures and speech.
In English literature, personification is oft-used as a literary device:
  • In John Keats's To Autumn, the fall season is personified as "sitting careless on a granary floor" (line 14) and "drowsed with the fume of poppies" (line 17).
  • In John Donne's Holy Sonnet X, death is personified as a "slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate sucking men" (line 9).

Similar figures of speech

The pathetic fallacy is the generalization of personification which applies to any description of inanimate objects or abstractions imbuing them with human-like traits. Anthropomorphism is a particular form of personification which gives such traits to tangible objects or natural phenomena. These are all allusive figures of speech called tropes.
Personification is not to be confused with prosopopoeia, which is the act of an author or writer narrating as another person or some other object. An apostrophe is where one addresses a personified or anthropomorphized object.

See also


personification in Czech: Personifikace
personification in German: Personifikation
personification in French: Personnification
personification in Croatian: Personifikacija
personification in Hebrew: האנשה
personification in Georgian: გაპიროვნება
personification in Macedonian: Персонификација
personification in Dutch: Personificatie
personification in Japanese: 擬人化
personification in Polish: Personifikacja
personification in Portuguese: Personificação
personification in Russian: Олицетворение
personification in Slovak: Personifikácia
personification in Slovenian: Poosebljenje
personification in Serbian: Персонификација
personification in Finnish: Personifikaatio
personification in Swedish: Personifikation
personification in Chinese: 擬人化
1. Unknown, . "Personification." Poetry As We See It. 1 June 2003. ThinkQuest. 30 May 2008 .

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1