persistence (n.) Look up persistence at
1540s, from Middle French persistance, from persistant "lasting, enduring, permanent," from Latin persistentem (nominative persistens), present participle of persistere (see persist). Often spelled persistance 16c. Related: Persistency.
persistent (adj.) Look up persistent at
1723, from persistence or from Latin persistentem (nominative persistens), present participle of persistere (see persist). Related: Persistently.
persnickety (adj.) Look up persnickety at
1889, alteration of pernickety (q.v.).
person (n.) Look up person at
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.
persona (n.) Look up persona at
1917, "outward or social personality," a Jungian psychology term, from Latin persona "person" (see person). Used earlier (1909) by Ezra Pound in the sense "literary character representing voice of the author." Persona grata is Late Latin, literally "an acceptable person," originally applied to diplomatic representatives acceptable to the governments to which they were sent; hence also persona non grata (plural personæ non gratæ).
personable (adj.) Look up personable at
"pleasing in one's person," early 15c., from person + -able, or else from Middle French personable. Related: Personably.
personage (n.) Look up personage at
mid-15c., "body of a person" (with regard to appearance), from Old French personage "size, stature," also "a dignitary" (13c.), from Medieval Latin personaticum (11c.), from persona (see person). Meaning "a person of high rank or distinction" is attested from c. 1500 in English; as a longer way to say person, the word was in use from 1550s (but often slyly ironical, with suggestion that the subject is overly self-important).
personal (adj.) Look up personal at
late 14c., "pertaining to the self," from Old French personal (12c., Modern French personnel), from Late Latin personalis "pertaining to a person," from Latin persona (see person). Meaning "aimed at some particular person" (usually in a hostile manner) first attested 1610s. The noun sense of "newspaper item about private matters" is attested from 1888. As "a classified ad addressed to an individual," it is recorded from 1861. Personal computer is from 1976.
personality (n.) Look up personality at
late 14c., "quality or fact of being a person," from Medieval Latin personalitatem (nominative personalitas), from Late Latin personalis (see personal). Sense of "a distinctive character" is first recorded 1795, from French personnalité.
Personality is the supreme realization of the innate idiosyncrasy of a living being. It is an act of courage flung in the face of life, the absolute affirmation of all that constitutes the individual, the most successful adaptation to the universal conditions of existence, coupled with the greatest possible freedom of self-determination. [C.G. Jung, "The Development of Personality," 1932]
Meaning "person whose character stands out from that of others" is from 1889. Personality cult is attested from 1956.
personalization (n.) Look up personalization at
1849, from personalize + noun ending -ation.
personalize (v.) Look up personalize at
1747, from personal + -ize. Related: Personalized; personalizing.
personally (adv.) Look up personally at
late 14c., from personal + -ly (2). Meaning "as far as I'm concerned" is from 1849.
personalty (n.) Look up personalty at
legal term, late 15c., from Anglo-French personaltie, corresponding to Middle French personalite, from Medieval Latin personalitas (see personality).
personhood (n.) Look up personhood at
1878, from person + -hood.
personification (n.) Look up personification at
1755, noun of action from personify. Sense of "embodiment of a quality in a person" is attested from 1807.
personify (v.) Look up personify at
1727 "to attribute personal form to things or abstractions" (especially as an artistic or literary technique), from person + -fy or from French personnifier (17c.), from personne. Meaning "to represent, embody" attested from 1806. Related: Personified; personifying.
personnel (n.) Look up personnel at
1837, from French personnel (a contrastive term to matériel), noun use of personnel (adj.) "personal," from Old French personel (see personal).
perspective (n.) Look up perspective at
late 14c., "science of optics," from Old French perspective and directly from Medieval Latin perspectiva ars "science of optics," from fem. of perspectivus "of sight, optical" from Latin perspectus "clearly perceived," past participle of perspicere "inspect, look through, look closely at," from per- "through" (see per) + specere "look at" (see scope (n.1)). Sense of "art of drawing objects so as to give appearance of distance or depth" is first found 1590s, influenced by Italian prospettiva, an artists' term. The figurative meaning "mental outlook over time" is first recorded 1762.
Perspex Look up Perspex at
1935, trade name in Britain for what in the U.S. is called Plexiglas or Lucite, irregularly formed from Latin perspect-, past participle stem of perspicere "look through, look closely at" (see perspective).
perspicacious (adj.) Look up perspicacious at
1630s, formed as an adjective to perspicacity, from Latin perspicax "sharp-sighted, having the power of seeing through; acute" (see perspicacity). Related: Perspicaciously; perspicaciousness.
perspicacity (n.) Look up perspicacity at
1540s, from Middle French perspicacité (15c.) and directly from Late Latin perspicacitas "sharp-sightedness, discernment," from Latin perspicax "sharp-sighted, having the power of seeing through," from perspicere "look through, look closely at" (see perspective).
perspicuity (n.) Look up perspicuity at
late 15c., of things; 1540s, of expressions, from Latin perspicuitas "transparency, clearness," from perspicuus, from perspicere "look through, look closely at" (see perspective).
perspicuous (adj.) Look up perspicuous at
late 15c., from Latin perspicuus "transparent, clear, evident," from perspicere "look through, look closely at" (see perspective). Related: Perspicuously; perspicuousness.
perspiration (n.) Look up perspiration at
1610s, from French perspiration (1560s), noun of action from perspirer "perspire," from Latin perspirare "blow or breathe constantly," from per- "through" (see per) + spirare "to breathe, blow" (see spirit (n.)). Applied to excretion of invisible moistures through the skin (1620s), hence used as a euphemism for "sweat" from 1725.
perspire (v.) Look up perspire at
1640s, "to evaporate through the pores," a back-formation from perspiration and in part from Latin perspirare "to breathe, to blow constantly" (see perspiration). Meaning "to sweat" is a polite usage attested from 1725. Medical men tried to maintain a distinction between "sensible" (sweat) and "insensible" perspiration:
[I]t is sufficient for common use to observe, that perspiration is that insensible discharge of vapour from the whole surface of the body and the lungs which is constantly going on in a healthy state; that it is always natural and always salutary; that sweat, on the contrary, is an evacuation, which never appears without some uncommon effort, or some disease to the system, that it weakens and relaxes, and is so far from coinciding with perspiration, that it obstructs and checks it. [Charles White, "A Treatise on the Management of Pregnant and Lying-in Women," London, 1791]
Related: Perspired; perspiring.
persuadable (adj.) Look up persuadable at
"capable of being persuaded," 1737, from persuade + -able. Fowler recommends this over the older adjective, persuasible (late 14c.), from Latin persuasibilis "convincing, persuasive," from persuad-, past participle stem of persuadere (see persuade). This originally meant "having power to persuade," but c. 1500 it also acquired the meaning "capable of being persuaded" and the older sense became obsolete.
persuade (v.) Look up persuade at
1510s, from Middle French persuader (14c.), from Latin persuadere "to bring over by talking," (see persuasion). Related: Persuaded; persuading.
persuasion (n.) Look up persuasion at
late 14c., "action of inducing (someone) to believe (something); argument to persuade, inducement," from Old French persuasion (14c.) and directly from Latin persuasionem (nominative persuasio) "a convincing, persuading," noun of action from past participle stem of persuadere "persuade, convince," from per- "thoroughly, strongly" (see per) + suadere "to urge, persuade," from PIE *swad- "sweet, pleasant" (see sweet (adj.)). Meaning "religious belief, creed" is from 1620s.
persuasive (adj.) Look up persuasive at
1580s, from Middle French persuasif, from Medieval Latin persuasivus, from Latin persuas-, past participle stem of persuadere "persuade, convince" (see persuasion). Related: Persuasively; persuasiveness. Replaced earlier persuasible in this sense (see persuadable).
pert (adj.) Look up pert at
c. 1300 (implied in pertly), "evident, unconcealed," shortened form of Middle English apert "open, frank," from Old French apert, from Latin apertus, past participle of aperire "to open" (see overt). Sense of "saucy, bold" first recorded late 14c. Less pejorative meaning "lively, brisk, in good spirits" (c. 1500) survives in U.S. dialectal peart (with Middle English alternative spelling). Related: Pertness.
pertain (v.) Look up pertain at
early 14c., from Old French partenir "to belong to" and directly from Latin pertinere "to reach, stretch; relate, have reference to; belong, be the right of; be applicable," from per- "through" (see per) + tenere "to hold" (see tenet). Related: Pertained; pertaining.
pertinacious (adj.) Look up pertinacious at
1620s, from pertinacy (late 14c.; see pertinacity) + -ous. Related: Pertinaciously.
pertinacity (n.) Look up pertinacity at
c. 1500, from Middle French pertinacité (early 15c.), from Old French pertinace "obstinate, stubborn," from Latin pertinacem (nominative pertinax) "very firm, tenacious, steadfast, persevering," from per- "very" (see per) + tenax (see tenacious). It drove out earlier pertinacy (late 14c.).
pertinence (n.) Look up pertinence at
1650s, from French pertenance or formed in English from pertinent + -ence.
pertinent (adj.) Look up pertinent at
late 14c., from Anglo-French purtinaunt (late 13c.), Old French partenant (mid-13c.) and directly from Latin pertinentem (nominative pertinens) "pertaining," present participle of pertinere "to relate, concern" (see pertain). Related: Pertinently.
perturb (v.) Look up perturb at
late 14c., from Old French perturber "disturb, confuse" (14c.) and directly from Latin perturbare "to confuse, disorder, disturb," especially of states of the mind, from per- "through" (see per) + turbare "disturb, confuse," from turba "turmoil, crowd" (see turbid). Related: Perturbed; perturbing.
perturbate (adj.) Look up perturbate at
1560s, from Latin perturbatus "troubled, disturbed, agitated," past participle of perturbare (see perturb).
perturbation (n.) Look up perturbation at
late 14c., from Old French perturbacion "disturbance, confusion" (14c.) and directly from Latin perturbationem (nominative perturbatio) "confusion, disorder, disturbance," noun of action from past participle stem of perturbare (see perturb).
perturbed (adj.) Look up perturbed at
1510s, past participle adjective from perturb (v.).
pertussis (n.) Look up pertussis at
"whooping cough," 1670s (Sydenham), from Modern Latin pertussis, from per- "thoroughly" + tussis "cough," of unknown origin.
Peru Look up Peru at
from Spanish Peru, said to be from Quechua pelu "river." Related: Peruvian.
peruke (n.) Look up peruke at
1540s, "natural head of hair," from Middle French perruque (late 15c.), from Italian perrucca "head of hair, wig," of uncertain origin; supposed by some to be connected to Latin pilus "hair," "but the phonetic difficulties are considerable" [OED]. Meaning "artificial head of hair, periwig" is attested from 1560s.
perusal (n.) Look up perusal at
c. 1600, from peruse + -al (2).
peruse (v.) Look up peruse at
late 15c., "use up, wear out, go through," from Middle English per- "completely" (see per) + use (v.). Meaning "read carefully" is first recorded 1530s, but this could be a separate formation. Meaning "read casually" is from 19c. Related: Perused; perusing.
perv (n,) Look up perv at
also perve, 1944, slang shortening of (sexual) pervert (n.). As a slang verb, by 1941 as "to act erotically" (intransitive), by 1959 as "to eroticize" something (transitive).
pervade (v.) Look up pervade at
1650s, from Latin pervadere "spread or go through," from per- "through" + vadere "to go" (see vamoose). Related: Pervaded; pervading.
pervasive (adj.) Look up pervasive at
1750, from Latin pervas-, past participle stem of pervadere (see pervade) + -ive.
perverse (adj.) Look up perverse at
mid-14c., "wicked," from Old French pervers "unnatural, degenerate; perverse, contrary" (12c.) and directly from Latin perversus "turned away, contrary, askew," figuratively, "turned away from what is right, wrong, malicious, spiteful," past participle of pervertere "to corrupt" (see pervert (v.)). The Latin word is glossed in Old English by forcerred, from past participle of forcyrran "to avoid," from cierran "to turn, return." Meaning "wrong, not in accord with what is accepted" is from 1560s; sense of "obstinate, stubborn" is from 1570s. It keeps the non-sexual senses of pervert (v.) and allows the psychological ones to go with perverted. Related: Perversely; perverseness.
perversion (n.) Look up perversion at
late 14c., "action of turning aside from truth, corruption, distortion" (originally of religious beliefs), from Latin perversionem (nominative perversio) "a turning about," noun of action from past participle stem of pervertere (see pervert (v.)). Psychological sense of "disorder of sexual behavior in which satisfaction is sought through channels other than those of normal heterosexual intercourse" is from 1892, originally including homosexuality.
Perversions are defined as unnatural acts, acts contrary to nature, bestial, abominable, and detestable. Such laws are interpretable only in accordance with the ancient tradition of the English common law which ... is committed to the doctrine that no sexual activity is justifiable unless its objective is procreation. [A.C. Kinsey,, "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male," 1948]
perversity (n.) Look up perversity at
1520s, from Middle French perversité "depravity, degeneracy" (12c.), from Latin perversitatem (nominative perversitas) "forwardness, untowardness," from perversus (see perverse).