A person is a being, such as a human, that has certain capacities or attributes constituting personhood, which in turn is defined differently by different authors in different disciplines, and by different cultures in different times and places.
In ancient Rome, the word "persona" (Latin) or "prosopon" (πρόσωπον: Greek) originally referred to the masks worn by actors on stage. The various masks represented the various "personae" in the stage play. The concept of a "person" was further developed during the Trinitarian and Christological debates of the first through sixth centuries. Since then, a number of important changes to the word's meaning and use have taken place, and attempts have been made to redefine the word with varying degrees of adoption and influence.
In addition to the question of personhood, of what makes a being count as a person to begin with, there are further questions about personal identity: both about what makes any particular person that particular person instead of another, and about what makes a person at one time the same person as he or she was or will be at another time despite any intervening changes.
The common plural of "person", "people", is often used to refer to an entire nation or ethnic group (as in "a people"), so the plural "persons" is often used in contexts which require precision such as philosophical and legal writing.
Famous quotes containing the word person:
“A person can develop a cold.”
—Frank Loesser (19101969)
“I have very lately read the Prince of Abyssinia [Samuel Johnsons Rasselas]MI am almost equally charmed and shocked at itthe style, the sentiments are inimitablebut the subject is dreadfuland, handled as it is by Dr. Johnson, might make any young, perhaps old, person trembleO heavens! how dreadful, how terrible it is to be told by a man of his genius and knowledge, in so affectingly probable a manner, that true, real happiness is ever unattainable in this world!”
—Frances Burney (17521840)
“Theres something tragic in the fate of almost every personits just that the tragic is often concealed from a person by the banal surface of life.... A woman will complain of indigestion and not even know that what she means is that her whole life has been shattered.”
—Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev (18181883)