Guide to Literary Terms

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What is the definition of personification?

The definition of personification is the metaphorical attribution of human qualities to nonhuman entities.

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Personification is a form of figurative language that assigns human qualities or characteristics to something that is nonhuman (such as animals, inanimate objects, or ideas). When identifying an example of personification in animals, it is important to make sure that the characteristic in question is uniquely human. Additionally, though personification is closely related to anthropomorphism, make sure you are not confusing these two terms (see: anthropomorphism).

Correct examples:

  • “The city was asleep.”
  • “The party was dead by the time I got there.”

Incorrect examples:

  • “The horse pranced around the field.”
  • “The dog sauntered into the kitchen.”

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