Word of the Week: Personification

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, personification means, “attribution of personal qualities” and/or “a divinity or imaginary being representing a thing or abstraction” (Merriam-Webster).

Another word associated with personification is its verb form, personify. Personify means, “to conceive of or represent as a person or as having human qualities or powers,” and/or “to be the embodiment or personification of” (Merriam-Webster).

The words originate from the French word personnifier from the French word personne which means “to represent, embody” (Online Etymology Dictionary).

Personification is basically a form of literary tool to give inanimate objects human like conditions and/or characteristics. For instance, in Emily Dickinson’s poem “Have You Got A Brook In Your Little Heart“, the first stanza of the poem reads:

“Have you got a Brook in your little heart
Where bashful flowers blow
And blushing birds go down to drink
And shadows tremble so…”

In the second line, the line reads “where bashful flowers blow“. This line can be considered personified because of the fact that Dickinson said the flowers had an emotion/feeling, being bashful.

While flowers are technically animate objects, living things, flowers do not have locomotion and are not capable of the “human” characteristic/condition of being “bashful”.

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