im·​per·​son·​al | \ (ˌ)im-ˈpərs-nəl How to pronounce impersonal (audio) , -ˈpər-sə-nəl \

Definition of impersonal

1a : having no personal reference or connection impersonal criticism
b : not engaging the human personality or emotions the machine as compared with the hand tool is an impersonal agency— John Dewey
c : not existing as a person : not having human qualities or characteristics
2a : denoting the verbal action of an unspecified agent and hence used with no expressed subject (such as methinks) or with a merely formal subject (such as rained in it rained)
b of a pronoun : indefinite

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Other Words from impersonal

impersonality \ (ˌ)im-​ˌpər-​sə-​ˈna-​lə-​tē How to pronounce impersonal (audio) \ noun
impersonally \ (ˌ)im-​ˈpərs-​nə-​lē How to pronounce impersonal (audio) , -​ˈpər-​sə-​nə-​lē \ adverb

Examples of impersonal in a Sentence

We discussed the weather and other impersonal topics. He maintained an impersonal, professional attitude. “Rained” in “it rained” is an impersonal verb.
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Recent Examples on the Web In greater numbers, death becomes impersonal, and people feel increasingly hopeless that their actions can have any effect. Author: William Wan, Brittany Shammas, Anchorage Daily News, "Why Americans are numb to the staggering coronavirus death toll," 22 Dec. 2020 The paradox of the impersonal personal is the defining trait of Soderbergh’s art. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“Let Them All Talk,” Reviewed: What’s Missing from Steven Soderbergh’s Cruise-Ship Film," 14 Dec. 2020 Men and women drifted in and out of existence as epiphenomena of an impersonal cosmic order. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, "Christianity as Ideology: The Cautionary Tale of the Jericho March," 18 Dec. 2020 Van Epps is proud that her family never put her sister in an impersonal institution. Amy Silverman For Arizona Daily Star, ProPublica, "They Made a Revolutionary System to Protect People With Developmental Disabilities. Now It’s Falling Apart.," 12 Dec. 2020 Because of its misleadingly impersonal interface, Slack is too conducive to cutting off discussion and barking orders like some Parris Island drill sergeant. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, "Down With Slack," 4 Dec. 2020 At the same time, Baldessari’s impersonal stamp lends a degree of anonymity to his sheet. Los Angeles Times, "What would Baldessari do? A good question for the end of a terrible year," 7 Dec. 2020 Handmaids, clad in fiery red, represent sinful carnality and impersonal breeding vessels, who bring children into the world through ritualised rape ceremonies. Eliza Huber,, "What Message Is Ivanka Trump Trying To Send With This Handmaid’s Tale Dress?," 7 Dec. 2020 Van Ness speaks with a warmth that breaks through the cold, impersonal monotony of Zoom. Mathew Rodriguez, SELF, "Jonathan Van Ness on Vulnerability Hangovers, Dating With Intention, and Living With HIV in a Pandemic," 1 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'impersonal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of impersonal

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for impersonal

Middle English, from Late Latin impersonalis, from Latin in- + Late Latin personalis personal

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Time Traveler for impersonal

Time Traveler

The first known use of impersonal was in the 15th century

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Statistics for impersonal

Last Updated

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Impersonal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for impersonal


How to pronounce impersonal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of impersonal

: having or showing no interest in individual people or their feelings : lacking emotional warmth
: not relating to or influenced by personal feelings
grammar : having no specified subject or no subject other than "it"


im·​per·​son·​al | \ im-ˈpər-sə-nəl How to pronounce impersonal (audio) \

Kids Definition of impersonal

1 : not caring about individual persons or their feelings She disliked the large impersonal city.
2 : not showing or involving personal feelings We discussed the weather and other impersonal topics.

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