in person


  1. a human being, whether an adult or child: The table seats four persons.
  2. a human being as distinguished from an animal or a thing.
  3. an individual human being who likes or prefers something specified (used in combination): I’ve never been a cat person.
  4. Sociology. an individual human being, especially with reference to his or her social relationships and behavioral patterns as conditioned by the culture.
  5. Philosophy. a self-conscious or rational being.
  6. the actual self or individual personality of a human being: You ought not to generalize, but to consider the person you are dealing with.
  7. the body of a living human being, sometimes including the clothes being worn: He had no money on his person.
  8. the body in its external aspect: an attractive person to look at.
  9. a character, part, or role, as in a play or story.
  10. an individual of distinction or importance.
  11. a person not entitled to social recognition or respect.
  12. Law. a human being (natural person) or a group of human beings, a corporation, a partnership, an estate, or other legal entity (artificial person or juristic person) recognized by law as having rights and duties.
  13. Grammar. a category found in many languages that is used to distinguish between the speaker of an utterance and those to or about whom he or she is speaking. In English there are three persons in the pronouns, the first represented by I and we, the second by you, and the third by he, she, it, and they. Most verbs have distinct third person singular forms in the present tense, as writes; the verb be has, in addition, a first person singular form am.
  14. Theology. any of the three hypostases or modes of being in the Trinity, namely the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
  1. be one’s own person, to be free from restrictions, control, or dictatorial influence: Now that she’s working, she feels that she’s her own person.
  2. in person, in one’s own bodily presence; personally: Applicants are requested to apply in person.


  1. Christianity any of the three hypostases existing as distinct in the one God and constituting the Trinity. They are the First Person, the Father, the Second Person, the Son, and the Third Person, the Holy Ghost

noun plural persons

  1. an individual human being
  2. the body of a human being, sometimes including his or her clothingguns hidden on his person
  3. a grammatical category into which pronouns and forms of verbs are subdivided depending on whether they refer to the speaker, the person addressed, or some other individual, thing, etc
  4. a human being or a corporation recognized in law as having certain rights and obligations
  5. philosophy a being characterized by consciousness, rationality, and a moral sense, and traditionally thought of as consisting of both a body and a mind or soul
  6. archaic a character or role; guise
  7. in person
    1. actually presentthe author will be there in person
    2. without the help or intervention of others

early 13c., from Old French persone “human being, anyone, person” (12c., Modern French personne) and directly from Latin persona “human being, person, personage; a part in a drama, assumed character,” originally “mask, false face,” such as those of wood or clay worn by the actors in later Roman theater. OED offers the general 19c. explanation of persona as “related to” Latin personare “to sound through” (i.e. the mask as something spoken through and perhaps amplifying the voice), “but the long o makes a difficulty ….” Klein and Barnhart say it is possibly borrowed from Etruscan phersu “mask.” Klein goes on to say this is ultimately of Greek origin and compares Persephone.

Of corporate entities from mid-15c. The use of -person to replace -man in compounds and avoid alleged sexist connotations is first recorded 1971 (in chairperson). In person “by bodily presence” is from 1560s. Person-to-person first recorded 1919, originally of telephone calls.


  1. A living human.
  2. The composite of characteristics that make up an individual personality; the self.
  3. The living body of a human.
  4. Physique and general appearance.

An inflectional form (see inflection) of pronouns and verbs that distinguishes between the person who speaks (first person), the person who is spoken to (second person), and the person who is spoken about (third person). The pronoun or verb may be singular or plural. For example:

first person singular: I walk.
second person singular: you walk.
third person singular: he/she/it walks.
first person plural: we walk.
second person plural: you walk.
third person plural: they walk.

Also, in the flesh. In one’s physical presence, as in He applied for the job in person, or I couldn’t believe it, but there she was, in the flesh. The first expression dates from the mid-1500s. The variant, from the 1300s, was long used to allude to the bodily resurrection of Jesus, but later acquired its looser meaning. Charles Dickens has it in Our Mutual Friend (1865): “The minutes passing on, and no Mrs. W. in the flesh appearing.”

In addition to the idiom beginning with person

  • person of color

also see:

  • feel like oneself (a new person)
  • in person
  • own person, one’s

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