Personification is an ontological metaphor in which a thing or abstraction is represented as a person. [ [ "What is personification"] from SIL International]

The term "personification" may apply to:
#The act of personifying.
#A person or thing typifying a certain quality or idea; an embodiment or exemplification: "He's invisible, a walking personification of the Negative" (Ralph Ellison).
#An artistic representation of an abstract quality or idea as a person.


Some simple examples of personification in English:
* "Santa Claus" personifies Christmas
* "Jack Frost" personifies winter
* "Mother Nature" or "Mother Earth" personifies the ecosystem
* The "Grim Reaper" personifies death

In business and political news reportage, personification is commonly used to convey a sense of agency for otherwise abstract entities like nations, machines or corporations:
* US Defends Sale of Ports Company to Arab Nation [cite journal|first = Devlin|last = Barrett|coauthors = Ted Bridis|url =,0,5032798.story?coll=la-headlines-nation|title = U.S. Defends Sale of Ports Company to Arab Nation|journal = Los Angeles Times|pages = A22|date = 2006-02-17|accessdate = 2006-07-28|format = Dead link|date=May 2008.]

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

*National personification
*Father Time


External sources

*Unknown, . [ "Personification"] . Poetry As We See It. 1 June 2003. ThinkQuest. 30 May 2008.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • personification — [pər sän΄ə fi kā′shən] n. 1. a personifying or being personified 2. a person or thing thought of as representing some quality, thing, or idea; embodiment; perfect example [he is the personification of honesty] 3. a figure of speech in which a… …   English World dictionary

  • Personification — Per*son i*fi*ca tion, n. [Cf. F. personnification.] 1. The act of personifying; impersonation; embodiment. C. Knight. [1913 Webster] 2. (Rhet.) A figure of speech in which an inanimate object or abstract idea is represented as animated, or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Personification — Personification, jede Redefigur, durch die das Leblose belebt, d. h. redend oder handelnd eingeführt wird, z. B. die Blätter lispeln mir Deinen Namen zu. B–l …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • Personification — Personification, rhetorische u. poetische Figur, worin ein lebloser Gegenstand personificirt d.h. als lebend gedacht und angeredet wird …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • personification — index embodiment Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • personification — 1755, noun of action from PERSONIFY (Cf. personify). Sense of embodiment of a quality in a person is attested from 1807 …   Etymology dictionary

  • personification —    The term personification comes from the Latin words persona (mask, person) and facere (to make). It is used to denote a * compound hallucination depicting a human being. Karl Jaspers (1883 1969) credits the German chemist Ludwig Staudenmaier… …   Dictionary of Hallucinations

  • personification — per|son|i|fi|ca|tion [pəˌsɔnıfıˈkeıʃən US pərˌsa: ] n 1.) the personification of sth someone who is a perfect example of a quality because they have a lot of it ▪ He became the personification of the financial excess of the 1980s. 2.) [U and C]… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • personification — [[t]pə(r)sɒ̱nɪfɪke͟ɪʃ(ə)n[/t]] personifications 1) N SING: usu the N of n If you say that someone is the personification of a particular thing or quality, you mean that they are a perfect example of that thing or that they have a lot of that… …   English dictionary

  • personification — personificator, n. /peuhr son euh fi kay sheuhn/, n. 1. the attribution of a personal nature or character to inanimate objects or abstract notions, esp. as a rhetorical figure. 2. the representation of a thing or abstraction in the form of a… …   Universalium

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