late 13c., person (late 12c. as a surname), "parish priest" (later often applied to a clergyman in general), from Anglo-French and Old French persone "curate, parson, holder of Church office" (12c.), from Medieval Latin persona "parson" (see person). The reason for the ecclesiastical use is obscure; it might refer to the "person" legally holding church property, or it may be an abbreviation of persona ecclesiae "person of the church." The shift to a spelling with -a- begins late 13c. in surnames. Related: Parsonic. Parson's nose "the rump of a fowl" is attested by 1834.