person

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See also: Person and -person

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English persoun, personne et al., from Anglo-Norman parsone, persoun et al. (Old French persone (human being), French personne), and its source Latin persōna (mask used by actor; role, part, character), perhaps a loanword from Etruscan 𐌘𐌄𐌓𐌔𐌖 (φersu, mask). In this sense, displaced native man, which came to mean primarily "adult male" in Middle English; see Old English mann. Doublet of parson and persona.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

person (plural persons or (by suppletion) people)

  1. An individual who has been granted personhood; usually a human being. [from 13th c.]
    • 1784, William Jones, The Description and Use of a New Portable Orrery, &c., PREFACE
      THE favourable reception the Orrery has met with from Perſons of the firſt diſtinction, and from Gentlemen and Ladies in general, has induced me to add to it ſeveral new improvements in order to give it a degree of Perfection; and diſtinguiſh it from others; which by Piracy, or Imitation, may be introduced to the Public.
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter XII, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC, page 85:
      “A very welcome, kind, useful present, that means to the parish. By the way, Hopkins, let this go no further. We don't want the tale running round that a rich person has arrived. Churchill, my dear fellow, we have such greedy sharks, and wolves in lamb's clothing. []
    Each person is unique, both mentally and physically.
    1. A character or part, as in a play; a specific kind or manifestation of individual character, whether in real life, or in literary or dramatic representation; an assumed character.
    2. (Christianity) Any one of the three hypostases of the Holy Trinity: the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit.
    3. Any sentient or socially intelligent being.
    4. (in a compound noun or noun phrase) Someone who likes or has an affinity for (a specified thing). [from 20th c.]
      Jack's always been a dog person, but I prefer cats.
    5. (in a compound noun or noun phrase) A human of unspecified gender (in terms usually constructed with man or woman).
    6. (in a compound noun or noun phrase) A worker in a specified function or specialty.
      I was able to speak to a technical support person and get the problem solved.
  2. The physical body of a being seen as distinct from the mind, character, etc. [from 14th c.]
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, →OCLC, partition 3, section 1, member 2, subsection 3, page 347:
      [] when the young Ladies laughed at her for it, ſhe replied that it was not his perſon that ſhe did embrace and reverence, but the divine beauty of his Soule.
    • 1897 October 16, Henry James, chapter XVI, in What Maisie Knew, Chicago, Ill., New York, N.Y.: Herbert S. Stone & Co., →OCLC, page 188:
      The Captain, inclining his military person, sat sideways to be closer and kinder [].
    • 1978, Lawrence Durrell, Livia, Faber & Faber 1992 (Avignon Quintet), page 418:
      At first blush it seemed that what was striking about him rested on the fact that his dress was exotic, his person foreign.
    • 2004, The New York Times:
      Meanwhile, the dazed Sullivan, dressed like a bum with no identification on his person, is arrested and put to work on a brutal Southern chain gang.
  3. (law) Any individual or formal organization with standing before the courts. [from 14th c.]
    At common law a corporation or a trust is legally a person.
  4. (law, euphemistic) The human genitalia; specifically, the penis.
    • 1824, Vagrancy Act 1824 (5 Geo. 4. c. 83, United Kingdom), section 4:
      [E]very Person wilfully, openly, lewdly, and obscenely exposing his Person in any Street, Road, or public Highway, or in the View thereof, or in any Place of public Resort, with Intent to insult any Female ... and being subsequently convicted of the Offence for which he or she shall have been so apprehended, shall be deemed a Rogue and Vagabond, within the true Intent and Meaning of this Act ...
  5. (grammar) A linguistic category used to distinguish between the speaker of an utterance and those to whom or about whom they are speaking. See grammatical person. [from 14th c.]
  6. (biology) A shoot or bud of a plant; a polyp or zooid of the compound Hydrozoa, Anthozoa, etc.; also, an individual, in the narrowest sense, among the higher animals[19th century].
    • 1884, Patrick Geddes, “Morphology”, in Encyclopædia Britannica, volume 16:
      True corms, composed of united personae [] usually arise by gemmation, [] yet in sponges and corals occasionally by fusion of several originally distinct persons.

Usage notes[edit]

  • In senses 1.1, 1.3, and 1.4, the plural is most commonly people. In senses 1.2, 2, 3, and 5, persons is the only plural.
  • Traditionally a distinction has often been made in formal language whereby people is used of human beings in general and of larger, more anonymous groups, while persons describes a finite, known number of individuals. To the degree that speakers still use the plural persons, it is indeed often restricted to this latter context. However, Garner considers the distinction pedantic and most style guides (including e.g. the Associated Press and New York Times) now recommend people. Persons is still generally used in technical and legal contexts.
  • Referring to an individual as a “person” (rather than a gentleman, lady, etc.) was formerly perceived as a slight.
    • 1836, King William IV, quoted in Clare Jerrold, The Early Court of Queen Victoria (New York: Putnam, 1912), at p. 97:
      I trust in God that my life may be spared for nine months longer, after which period, in the event of my death, no Regency would take place. I should then have the satisfaction of leaving the Royal authority to the personal exercise of that young lady [the future Queen Victoria], the heiress presumptive to the Crown, and not in the hands of a person now near me [Victoria's mother], who is surrounded by evil advisers and who is herself incompetent to act with propriety in the station in which she would be placed. I have no hesitation in saying that I have been insulted, grossly insulted by that person, but I am determined to endure no longer a course of behaviour so disrespectful to me.

Synonyms[edit]

Hyponyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Descendants[edit]

  • Nigerian Pidgin: pesin

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Verb[edit]

person (third-person singular simple present persons, present participle personing or personning, simple past and past participle personed or personned)

  1. (obsolete, transitive) To represent as a person; to personify; to impersonate.
  2. (transitive, gender-neutral) To man, to supply with staff or crew.
    • 1981, John Nichols, “Sunday”, in The Nirvana Blues, New York, N.Y.: Ballantine Books, published 1983 May, page 89:
      “Okay. Soon as Natalie heard, and while she was flailing around trying to turn up a Valium, she decided she had better call Scott Harrison and ask his opinion on what sort of advice, re legal moves, she ought to call back to Iréné, or Rama, or Wilkerson, or whoever’s personning the fort back there.” / “Whoever’s whatening the fort?” / “Please. []
    • 1996 fall/winter, Sharon Dezurick, “Glen Park Community Festival a Success”, in Kristin Nash, editor, Glen Park News, San Francisco, Calif.: Glen Park Association, →OCLC, columns 1–2:
      Thank you to the many who helped the festival succeed (and apologies to anyone omitted): [] Kevin and Mary Jannsen, for tireless work including the initial survey, soliciting raffle donations, selling tickets, personning the raffle booth during the festival, etc.
    • 2006 March 22–28, L.E. [Lady Exister] Leone [pseudonym; Dani Leone], “Ah, Sprrr-ing!”, in Tim Redmond, editor, San Francisco Bay Guardian, volume 40, number 25, San Francisco, Calif., →ISSN, page 61, column 1:
      And I sat at the counter and watched the cooker cat personning the griddle with one hand and the grill with the other.
    • 2007, Brian R. Brenner, Don't Throw This Away!: The Civil Engineering Life, page 40:
      We had hit the iceberg, and it was time to person the lifeboats.
    • 2008, Jess Lourey, chapter 21, in August Moon: A Murder-By-Month Mystery, Woodbury, Minn.: Midnight Ink, Llewellyn Publications, →ISBN, page 207:
      I was just mulling over the merits of working the fryer at McDonald’s versus personning the complaints desk at Wal-Mart when I took a right onto the dirt road leading to New Millennium Bible Camp.
    • 2008, William Guy, Something Sensational, page 337:
      We went so far as to stop in a hotel on the way out of Speyer — to ask for directions — but the teenaged girl personing the desk there seemed to be such an idiot []
    • 2018 September, Paul Bowers, “The Wrasse and the Flatfish”, in The Panda Chronicles: A Mythology, 2nd edition, [Morrisiville, N.C.]: [Lulu.com], →ISBN, page 74:
      In fact, so inebriated were they that they could barely move, and, neither nest nor wheel being personned, the ship was as usual careening wildly across the main.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bingham, Caleb (1808), “Improprieties in Pronunciation, common among the people of New-England”, in The Child's Companion; Being a Conciſe Spelling-book [] [1], 12th edition, Boston: Manning & Loring, →OCLC, page 76.

Further reading[edit]

Anagrams[edit]

Breton[edit]

Noun[edit]

person m (plural personed)

  1. vicar

Inflection[edit]

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Danish[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Latin persona.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

person c (singular definite personen, plural indefinite personer)

  1. person
  2. character
  3. figure
  4. people

Inflection[edit]

References[edit]

Esperanto[edit]

Noun[edit]

person

  1. accusative singular of perso

Finnish[edit]

Adjective[edit]

person

  1. genitive singular of perso

Indonesian[edit]

Indonesian Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia id

Etymology[edit]

From Dutch persoon, from Middle Dutch persone, ultimately from Latin persōna. Doublet of persona.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

person (first-person possessive personku, second-person possessive personmu, third-person possessive personnya)

  1. (uncommon) person, individual
    Synonyms: perseorangan, pribadi

Related terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Norwegian Bokmål[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Latin persona.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /pær.suːn/, [pæ.ˈʂuːn] (Standard Eastern Norwegian)
  • (file)

Noun[edit]

person m (definite singular personen, indefinite plural personer, definite plural personene)

  1. a person

Derived terms[edit]

References[edit]

Norwegian Nynorsk[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Latin persona.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /pær.suːn/, [pæ.ˈʂuːn]

Noun[edit]

person m (definite singular personen, indefinite plural personar, definite plural personane)

  1. a person

Derived terms[edit]

References[edit]

Scots[edit]

Noun[edit]

person (plural people)

  1. (law) An individual with rights and responsibilities under the law.
  2. (law) An individual or formal organisation with standing before the courts.
  3. In fiction, any sentient or socially intelligent being.

Swedish[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Latin persona.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

person c

  1. a person, (in the plural) people
    Synonym: (in the plural, colloquial) pers
    Tolv personer deltog i mötet
    Twelve people attended the meeting
    Jag har inget emot dig som person
    I have nothing against you as a person
  2. (grammar) person

Usage notes[edit]

Not formal like persons in the plural. Matches people in tone.

Declension[edit]

Declension of person 
Singular Plural
Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
Nominative person personen personer personerna
Genitive persons personens personers personernas

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Anagrams[edit]

Welsh[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Ultimately borrowed from Latin persōna (mask used by actor; role, part, character), probably via Middle English and Old French persone (human being).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

person m (plural personau)

  1. person
    Synonym: unigolyn

Derived terms[edit]

Noun[edit]

person m (plural personiaid)

  1. parson
  2. clergyman
    Synonyms: clerigwr, offeiriad

Mutation[edit]

Welsh mutation
radical soft nasal aspirate
person berson mherson pherson
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.

References[edit]

  • R. J. Thomas, G. A. Bevan, P. J. Donovan, A. Hawke et al., editors (1950–present), “person”, in Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru Online (in Welsh), University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies