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Coined between 1350 and 1400 as Middle English personalite, from Middle French [Term?], from Latin persōnālitās.[1]



personality (countable and uncountable, plural personalities)

  1. A set of non-physical psychological and social qualities that make a person (or thing) distinct from another.
    • (Can we date this quote by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Personality is individuality existing in itself, but with a nature as a ground.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 19, in The China Governess[1]:
      Meanwhile Nanny Broome was recovering from her initial panic and seemed anxious to make up for any kudos she might have lost, by exerting her personality to the utmost. She took the policeman's helmet and placed it on a chair, and unfolded his tunic to shake it and fold it up again for him.
    The president has a unique personality.
  2. An assumed role or manner of behavior.
    My work PC emulates a Windows personality.
    In his final act, the comedian takes on a child's personality.
  3. A celebrity.
    Johnny Carson was a respected television personality.
  4. Charisma, or qualities that make a person stand out from the crowd.
    • 1959, Lloyd Price, “Personality”:
      But over and over / I´ll be a fool for you / 'cause you got personality.
    The best contestant shows most personality.
  5. Something said or written which refers to the person, conduct, etc., of some individual, especially something of a disparaging or offensive nature; personal remarks.
    • 1848, Thomas Babington Macaulay, chapter 11, in The History of England from the Accession of James II:
      Sharp personalities were exchanged.
    • 1905, O. Henry, "Telemachus, Friend"
      Perceiving that personalities were not out of order, I asked him what species of beast had long ago twisted and mutilated his left ear.
    indulgence in personalities
  6. (law) That quality of a law which concerns the condition, state, and capacity of persons.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Burrill to this entry?)


Derived terms[edit]


  • Japanese: パーソナリティ (pāsonariti)


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


  1. ^ personality” in Unabridged,, LLC, 1995–present.

Further reading[edit]

  • "personality" in Raymond Williams, Keywords (revised), 1983, Fontana Press, page 232.