From the second edition (1989):
(pɜːsəˈnælɪtɪ) Also 4 -ite. [a. OF. personalité (14th c. in Hatz.-Darm.), now personn-, ad. med. Schol. L. persōnālitās, f. persōnāl-is personal: see -ity.]

1. a. The quality, character, or fact of being a person as distinct from a thing; that quality or principle which makes a being personal. Also in reference to a corporate body: see person n. 6.

c1380 Wyclif Sel. Wks. II. 296 Al þe personalite of man stondiþ in þe spirit of him. 1655 H. More Antid. Ath. xii. §5 App. (1662) 219 For a time he loses the sense of his own personality, and becomes a mere passive instrument of the deity. 1692 Bentley Boyle Lect. v. 152 We must be wary lest we ascribe any Personality to this Nature or Chance. 1802 Paley Nat. Theol. xxiii. (1819) 362 These capacities constitute personality, for they imply consciousness and thought. 1836 Emerson Nature, Idealism Wks. (Bohn) II. 164 Religion includes the personality of God; Ethics does not.

b. The condition ascribed to the Deity of consisting of distinct persons (see person n. 7).

1492 Ryman Poems xlii. 3 in Archiv. Stud. neu. Spr. LXXXIX. 209 Ay thre in personalite, In deite but oon. 1624 Gataker Transubst. 173 If a perfect substance or nature (as was the humanity of Christ) could want the naturall personality and subsistence thereof, supplyed by the divine person and hypostasis of the Sonne of God. 1752 J. Gill Trinity iv. 81 Personality is the bare mode of subsisting. 1833 J. H. Newman Arians ii. ii. (1876) 154 The apparent Personality ascribed to them [the Word, and the Spirit] in the Old Testament, is changed for a real Personality. 1870 —— Gram Assent i. v. 120 The Almighty God, instead of being One Person only, which is the teaching of Natural Religion, has three Personalities.

c. Personal existence, actual existence as a person; the fact of there being or having been such a person; personal identity.

1835 Thirlwall Greece I. viii. 337 This inference‥would lead to other conclusions affecting the personality of Lycurgus. 1849 Ruskin Sev. Lamps vi. §2. 164 The age of Homer is surrounded with darkness, his very personality with doubt. 1870 Freeman Norm. Conq. II. App. 673 There are others‥whose personality can be identified in Domesday.

2. a. That quality or assemblage of qualities which makes a person what he is, as distinct from other persons; distinctive personal or individual character, esp. when of a marked or notable kind. Also fig. in reference to a thing. Also in phr. to have personality, to have qualities or traits of character to an unusual or noteworthy degree.

1795 Jemima II. 167 Marmontel observes that even a French girl of sixteen, if she has but a little personality, is a Machiavel. 1847 Emerson Repr. Men, Napoleon Wks. (Bohn) I. 367 Mirabeau, with his overpowering personality, felt that these things, which his presence inspired, were as much his own, as if he had said them. 1882 Farrar in Contemp. Rev. XLII. 807 The almost indescribable charm which his sermons derived from his personality. 1902 W. D. Howells Lit. & Life 249 How many houses now have character—personality? 1934 C. Fox in Proc. 1st Internat. Congr. Prehist. & Protohist. Sci. 27 Position, outline, and structure‥; the climate resulting from position, and the soil derived from structure, determine the vegetable life which she nourishes and the animal life which she harbours. The whole represents Man's environment, and Britain's ‘Personality’. 1940 R. S. Lambert Ariel & all his Quality iv. 116 To attract a solid core of permanent readers to any literary paper presupposes that that paper shall have a ‘personality’ to distinguish it from others of its kind. a1960 E. M. Forster Maurice (1971) xxxiv. 155 So he was in a way, but evidently he had personality. 1973 Times 31 Jan. (Mediterranean Suppl.) p. i/3 The Mediterranean islands could easily lose their personality in a short time.

b. (with pl.) A personal quality or characteristic; an individual trait. Obs. rare.

1748 Richardson Clarissa (1811) II. 138 In return [I] fall to praising those qualities and personalities in Lovelace, which the other never will have.

c. Psychol. and Sociol. The unique combination of psychophysical qualities or traits, inherent and acquired, that make up each person as observable in his reactions to the environment or to the social group; also, psychological study concerned with such aspects of the person, and with the similarities and differences that exist between persons.

1879 H. Maudsley Path. of Mind (ed. 3) i. 12 It is this physiological unity of organic functions, which is something deeper than consciousness and constitutes our fundamental personality. 1906 M. Prince (title) The dissociation of a personality. Ibid. i. 3 A more correct term is disintegrated personality, for each secondary personality is a part only of a normal whole self. 1921 Park & Burgess Introd. Sci. of Sociol. ii. 144 In sociology, personality is studied, not only from the subjective stand~point of its organization, but even more in its objective aspects and with reference to the rôle of the person in the group. 1930 Psychol. Bull. XXVII. 677 The methods and problems of contemporary research in personality. 1947 G. Murphy Personality p. x, The approach to personality is made chiefly in terms of origins and modes of development on the one hand, interrelations or structural problems on the other. 1949 Kluckhorn & Murray Personality i. 6 In trying to remedy these failures, there emerged the first comprehensive dynamic theory of personality—psychoanalysis. 1950 E. Frenkel-Brunswick in T. Wiesengrund-Adorno et al. Authoritarian Personality ix. 291 (heading) An approach to the prejudiced personality. 1964 J. Strachey et al. tr. Freud's New Introd. Lect. xxxi, in Compl. Psychol. Wks. XXII. 57 (title) The dissection of the psychical personality. 1969 J. W. Getzels in Lindzey & Aronson Handbk. Social Psychol. (ed. 2) V. xlii. 463 A social psychology of education is concerned with the interaction of role and personality in the school or classroom. 1975 J. Plamenatz K. Marx's Philos. of Man xiv. 401 There are ideas of love and freedom common to liberal ‘bourgeois’ society and to its Utopian critics which differ from these older ties and forms. There are ideas of personality, of personal relationships, and of their social conditions, peculiar to this society and to its critics.

3. a. A personal being, a person. (In first quot. applied to the distinct ‘persons’ in the Godhead: cf. person n. 7a.)

1678 Cudworth Intell. Syst. i. iv. 597 The Platonists thus distinguishing, betwixt οὐσία and ὐπόστασις, the Essence of the Godhead, and the Distinct Hypostases or Personalities thereof. Ibid. v. 750 Humane Souls, Minds, and Personalities, being unquestionably Substantial Things and Really Distinct from Matter. 1851 Hawthorne Ho. Sev. Gables xi, By its remoteness, it melts all the petty personalities, of which it is made up, into one broad mass of existence. 1895 W. H. Hudson Spencer's Philos. 209 We cannot think of an infinite personality. Personality implies limitation, or it means nothing at all.

b. A person who stands out from others either by virtue of strong or unusual character or because his position makes him a focus for some form of public interest.

1889 G. B. Shaw in Church Reformer Mar. 68/1 Individuality is concentrated, fixed, gripped in one exceptionally gifted man, who is consequently what we call a personality, a man pre-eminently himself, impossible to disguise. 1919 V. Woolf Night & Day iv. 46 I've only seen her once or twice, but she seems to me to be what one calls a ‘personality’. 1933 Radio Times 14 Apr. 82/3, I apply what may seem a whimsical test to broadcasting personalities. I ask myself if I would care to meet and talk with them in the flesh. 1947 Sat. Rev. Lit. (U.S.) 26 Apr. 4/1 In Elizabeth Ann McMurray, John McGinnir, Jimmie Albright, and Lon Tinkle, it harbors four of the outstanding personalities in the American book world. 1959 Language Learning IX. iv. 79 It is used with the greatest aplomb and ease by radio and T.V. personalities. 1962 Listener 22 Mar. 503/1 He is a local councillor in a small town, and one of its prominent personalities. 1973 Birmingham (Alabama) News 10 June e–7/4 More recently she has tried, fairly unsuccessfully, for a career as television personality. 1973 D. Miller Chinese Jade Affair xviii. 176 The woes of being a secret policeman during the visits of V.I.P. personalities. 1976 National Observer (U.S.) 13 Nov. 1/1 ‘In movies they buy personalities,’ says Billy Dee.

4. Bodily parts collectively; body, person. Also in pl. in same sense. rare.

1842 Gen. P. Thompson Exerc. VI. 413 It might bait a rat-trap; though a well-fed rat would hardly risk his personalities for such a pittance. 1884 Malleson Battle-fields Germany vi. 161 Notwithstanding that he was the possessor, at the age of thirty-three, of little more than half of his original personality, he was as active, as daring, as efficient, as the strongest and soundest-limbed man in his army.

5. a. The fact of relating to an individual person, or to particular persons; spec. the quality of being directed to or aimed at an individual, esp. in the way of disparagement or unfriendly reference.

1772 Ann. Reg. 33/1 By specifying and applying their charges to individuals, to incur the censure of a mean and malicious personality. 1786 Cumberland Observer No. 93 III. 325 There is yet another topic, which he has been no less studious to avoid, which is personality. 1814 D'Israeli Quarrels Auth. (1867) 283 Personality in his satires, no doubt, accorded with the temper and the talent of Pope. 1856 Froude Hist. Eng. (1858) II. vi. 41 He had attacked Wolsey himself with somewhat vulgar personality. 1865 Trollope Belton Est. v. 49 Never referring with clear personality to those who had been nearest to her when she had been a child.

b. (Usu. in pl.) A statement or remark aimed at or referring to an individual person, usually of a disparaging or offensive kind. (In quot. 1811 (pl.) used for ‘personal attentions or compliments’.)

1769 Sir W. Draper in Junius Lett. xxvi. (1772) I. 187 Cannot political questions be discussed without descending to the most odious personalities? 1811 L. M. Hawkins C'tess & Gertr. (1812) III. lix. 262 When occupied at home, she put by his personalities, by trying to interest him in a plan of diligence. a1850 J. C. Calhoun Wks. (1874) III. 250 The Senator resorted to personalities. 1891 C. Lowe in 19th Cent. Dec. 859 The Court cannot and will not stand‥journalistic personalities about its members.

c. The fact of being personal, or done by a person himself. Obs.

1648 Fairfax, etc. 2nd Remonstr. 36 The King comes in with the reputation‥of having long sought it [Peace] by a Personal Treaty:‥the truth is, neither the Treaty, nor the Personality of it have advanced the businesse one jot.

6. Law.a. = personalty a. Obs. b. = personalty b; gen. personal belongings. rare.

1658 Phillips, Personality, (a Law-Term) an abstract of personal, as the action is in the personalty [1661 Blount personality; 1704 J. Harris Lex. Techn. I, Personality]; that is, brought against the right person. 1752 Dodson in Phil. Trans. XLVII. 334 The interest or dividends of many personalities in the stocks. 1858 Hawthorne Fr. & It. Note-Bks. II. 72 Michael Angelo's‥old slippers, and whatever other of his closest personalities are to be shown.

c. The quality of concerning persons (in phr. personality of laws = F. personnalité des statuts).

1834–46 J. Story Confl. Laws i. §16 (1883) 19 By the personality of laws foreign jurists generally mean all laws which concern the condition, state, and capacity of persons; by the reality of laws, all laws which concern property or things; quæ ad rem spectant.

7. attrib. and Comb., as personality assessment, personality clash, personality defect, personality disorder, personality problem, personality test, personality theory; personality cult, devotion to a leader that is deliberately fostered by the emphasis placed on certain aspects of his personality; personality dynamics, a term used for the active, though not necessarily conscious, adaptation effected by a person of his personality to his environment; personality factor, a trait considered as sufficiently distinct and general in the study of personality to be measurable by factor analysis; personality integration (see quot. 1970); personality inventory, a questionnaire designed to assess personality traits; personality pattern, the pattern of personality that is formed by the inherited and acquired traits of an individual; personality structure, the combination of traits that make up a personality; personality system, a sociological term for individual personality in its dynamic social context; personality trait, a particular feature or characteristic that can be considered as relatively stable in an individual personality; personality type, a classification of personality according to the preponderant features or traits found either in a person or in a society; personality variable = personality factor.

1956 G. G. Stern et al. (title) Methods in personality assessment. 1964 Eng. Stud. XLV. 50 The intellectual and personality assessment of boys. 1969 Playboy July 102/1 These range from personality clashes‥to on-the-job incompetence. 1956 Canadian Forum May 25/1 The spread of the ‘personality cult’ diminished the role of collective leadership within the party and sometimes led to serious defects in our work. 1957 Economist 21 Sept. 912/2 The election campaign was marked by a personality cult, but its inspiration and techniques owed infinitely more to Madison Avenue than to Dr. Goebbels. 1959 Encounter July 80/2 The emphatic condemnation of the ‘personality cult’ at the 20th Congress of the CPSU by Mr. Krushchev. 1960 20th Cent. Apr. 342 A big factor in the sale of the more popular ‘name’ records is the personality cult. 1971 Black Scholar Apr.–May 7/2 We must be careful to avoid the tendency of building personality cults around specific individuals. 1971 I. Deutscher Marxism in our Time (1972) xv. 290 The crudities and cruelties of the ‘personality cult’ must have made him shudder more than once. 1973 Times 4 Dec. 16/7 Signs of new trouble in the Kremlin are evident in the rapid growth of the Brezhnev personality cult. 1927 New Republic 21 Sept. 129/1 The understanding thus gained spreads to all the slighter estrangements, the problems of discipline,‥the normalization of those with personality deficits or defects. 1936 W. S. Sadler Theory & Pract. Psychiatry xxiv. 393 About one-quarter of all school children carry definite personality defects. 1970 ‘T. Coe’ Wax Apple (1973) vii. 56 A naturally offensive man who had found a way‥to turn a personality defect to advantage. 1938 L. P. Thorpe Psychol. Found. Personality viii. 338 Investigators‥have attempted to ascertain the degree of relationship obtaining between glandular disturbances and personality disorders. 1969 Guardian 22 July 11/7 The 11-year old girl‥sentenced to life detention‥for strangling two small boys‥suffers from‥a severe personality disorder, for which there is no organic cause. 1976 Smythies & Corbett Psychiatry xvii. 290 Some patients who ask his help‥suffer from a different kind of illness—a personality disorder. 1954 B. R. Sappenfield (title) Personality dynamics: an integrative psychology of adjustment. 1958 M. Argyle Relig. Behaviour v. 48 M. B. Smith and others (1956) distinguish those people whose attitudes are primarily an adjustment to group standards from those whose attitudes are based more on internal personality dynamics. 1960 J. C. Coleman (title) Personality dynamics and effective behavior. 1932 P. M. Symonds Diagnosing Personality & Conduct xi. 438 The creatinine concentration of the urine was also found by Rich to be associated with personality factors. 1957 R. B. Cattell Personality & Motivation ix. 335 A personality factor will have a series of predictive validities against specific cultural performances. 1971 Lanyon & Goodstein Personality Assessment iv. 89 A system of five relatively orthogonal (independent) and easily interpreted personality factors. 1938 L. P. Thorpe Psychol. Found. Personality ix. 434 (heading) Definition and nature of personality integration. 1970 G. A. & A. G. Theodorson Mod. Dict. Sociol. 297 Personality integration, the harmonious coordination of the various aspects of the personality with each other, and of the personality as a whole with its environment.‥ Perfect personality integration is‥certainly not normal for persons in social interaction. 1932 P. M. Symonds Diagnosing Personality & Conduct v. 208 An integration of these various questionnaires designed to measure adjustment has been effected in a ‘Personality Inventory’ constructed by Bernreuter. 1933 Jrnl. Social Psychol. IV. 389 The test which was constructed has been entitled the Personality Inventory and is referred to herein as the P-I test. 1950 E. A. Suchman in S. A. Stouffer Measurement & Prediction v. 162 Evidence of the quasi-scale pattern in the case of personality inventories, information tests, and measures of intensity of feeling. 1968 Blum & Naylor Industr. Psychol. iv. 113 Numerous reasons have been suggested to account for the general lack of success in industrial situations of personality inventories. 1971 ‘D. Halliday’ Dolly & Doctor Bird xiii. 193 I've done an Eysenck personality inventory on you both.‥ You wouldn't suit. 1949 C. E. Thompson Thematic Apperception Test: Manual 3 When cultural prejudices or antagonisms are part of the personality pattern of the Negro they are likely to reduce the subject's identification with the white figures of the TAT. 1960 R. F. Peck et al. Psychol. of Character Devel. iv. 89 There are distinct personality patterns which characterize each type group, and which differentiate one group from another. 1973 E. B. Hurlock Personality Devel. (1974) ii. 19 The personality pattern is not the product of learning exclusively or of heredity exclusively‥it comes from an interaction of the two. 1963 A. Heron Towards Quaker View of Sex 51 Symptoms of deeper personality problems. 1939 R. Linton in A. Kardiner Individual & his Society p. vi, Basic personality structure, as the term is used here, represents the constellation of personality characteristics which would appear to be congenial with the total range of institutions comprised within a given culture. It‥is, therefore, an abstraction of the same order as culture itself. 1947 G. Murphy Personality xxviii. 664 Problems of generality of the conditioned response being interwoven with problems of personality structure in the true sense. 1957 R. B. Cattell Personality & Motivation viii. 281 A comparatively new world of personality structure‥has become visible to psychologists.‥ On this foundation of measurable functions, the psychology of the second half of the twentieth century may proceed to build its laws and theories of personality. 1972 Jrnl. Social Psychol. LXXXVI. 151 Individuals will be encouraged to hold attitudes of intolerance largely irrespective of their basic personality structure. 1951 Parsons & Shils Toward Gen. Theory Action ii. i. 55 A personality system is a system of action.‥ Social systems, personality systems, and cultural systems are critical subject matter for the theory of action. 1961 L. Thompson Toward Sci. of Mankind i. iv. 68 The personality system and the core values function as covert connecting links between the other four systems. 1971 F. Hollis in Roberts & Nee Theories Social Casework 59 This means attention to both the interpersonal system—parent-child, husband-wife, family—and to the personality systems of the individuals who compose the interpersonal system. 1927 Psychol. Bull. XXIV. 419 A battery containing a mixture of intelligence and personality tests was used by Gallup. 1964 M. Argyle Psychol. & Social Probl. xi. 139 The contribution of psychology‥has been to devise various objective tests and measures which are better able to select those who are good at the job. These include intelligence tests, personality tests, [etc.]. 1957 Hall & Lindzey Theories of Personality xiv. 538 It seems appropriate‥to pause and attempt to identify general trends which exist in spite of the tremendous differences among personality theories. 1977 R. Holland Self & Social Context v. 131 The emergence of new personality theories is accompanied by ambivalence towards predecessors as the new theorists filter out what they need from the past and construct around it a new position. 1921 F. H. & G. W. Allport in Jrnl. Abnormal Psychol. XVI. 6 (title) Personality traits: their classification and measurement. 1931 T. H. Pear Voice & Personality ii. 18 In the speech of some persons, there are sounds which really symbolise personality-traits. 1948 Mind LVII. 511 The gesture in question is a personality trait of a given individual if it is performed by him, say, six out of every ten times when he might have performed it. 1972 Jrnl. Social Psychol. LXXXVI. 30 We deduced that the personality traits of leaders would be more varied in the non~conformity than in the conformity situation. 1919 Psychol. Rev. XXVI. 374 Personality-type A‥is an individual rated as especially intelligent, prompt, persistent,‥sensitive, not at all loquacious. 1936 W. S. Sadler Theory & Pract. Psychiatry liv. 845 The most important etiologic factor‥is to be found in the personality type of these patients. 1949 MacIver & Page Society iii. 58 These studies have rather convincingly demonstrated‥that each culture tends to create and is supported by a ‘basic personality type’. 1966 Philosophy XLI. 299 Different social norms result in different modal personality-types. 1968 A. Etzioni Active Society xxi. 627 Most studies of efforts to affect ‘deep’ personality variables—especially psychoanalysis, ‘brainwashing’, and psychological experiments—show these efforts to have little effect. 1972 Encycl. Psychol. II. 385/1 Such personality variables as aggression, anxiety or authoritarianism. 1972 Jrnl. Social Psychol. LXXXVI. 121 Choosing groups dichotomized along some single personality variable, such as aggression, would allow far too many sources of variance.