mid-15c., "body of a person" (with regard to appearance), also "notable person, a man or woman of high rank or distinction," from Old French personage "size, stature," also "a dignitary" (13c.), from Medieval Latin personaticum (11c.), from Latin persona (see person). 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).
updated on April 14, 2020