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:
“You see, a person of my acquaintance used to divide people into three categories: those who would prefer to have nothing to hide than have to lie, those who would rather lie than have nothing to hide, and finally those who love both lies and secrets.”
—Albert Camus (19131960)
“Miss C_____ is ... remarkably neat in her person and is uncommonly diligent in every part of useful economy.... She hath indeed under her fathers tuition acquired ... a large share of real learning of almost all the living and dead languages. Nor was the leisure which she found for such acquirements produced by neglecting anything necessary or useful for the family, but by the most assiduous industry.”
—Sarah Fielding (17101768)
“A person who thinks himself important speaks slowly.”