"figure of speech or artistic representation in which something inanimate or abstract takes the form of a person," 1755, noun of action from personify. Sense of "embodiment of a quality in a person" is attested from 1807.
"figure formed by a flourish of a pen at the conclusion of a signature" (a precaution against forgers), 1580s, from French parafe, paraphe "a paragraph, signature, a flourish," a shortened form of paragraph.
"scheming, licentious, sexually voracious woman," by 1795, in reference to Valeria Messalina (died 48 C.E.), notorious third wife of the Roman emperor Claudius, long a figure of vanity and immorality.
"a youth," late 14c., of uncertain origin, possibly from strip (n.1) "long, narrow piece," on the notion of "one who is slender as a strip, whose figure is not yet filled out" + -ling.
c. 1600, "frightening ghost," from French spectre "an image, figure, ghost" (16c.), from Latin spectrum "appearance, vision, apparition" (see spectrum). Figurative sense "object of dread" is from 1774.