the reason is the guiding principle of the mind in the process of thinking. Freq. contrasted with will, imagination, passion, etc. Often personified.

this is one of The Oxford English Dictionary definitions for the word reason.

I don't get the last part. whats the meaning of personified? I searched a lot and it was written that personified meaning is "represent (a quality or concept) by a figure in human form". but doesn't make any sense. is reason not a aspect of being human?

1 Answer 1


As explained in Oxford Dictionaries (entry on "personification"), there are two sorts of personification. One is the embodiment of some idea or concept in human-like form, such as the idea of "lady luck". That's probably not what they were referring to.

The other is the attribution of some non-human thing, such as an abstract idea, with human attributes or capabilities. Thus, when we say "reason says X", we are personifying reason by saying it is capable of saying something. I think that is the sense of personified that the definition is invoking.

  • wait a minute. this sentence is saying that will, imagination, passion etc. often personified or reason is often personified and the will... are not? Mar 15, 2019 at 20:23
  • The sentence is saying that reason (1) is frequently contrasted with "will, imagination, passion etc" and (2) is often personified. It is silent about whether "will, imagination, passion etc" are personified. Mar 15, 2019 at 20:47
  • Yup. @MichaelHarvey has got it. Each sentence of the definition stands alone as elements of the definition. Oh, and the other elements of personality/mind (will, imagination, passion etc) are also often personified. It seems we humans like to imagine we have a committee in our heads (consider the film Inside Out)
    – SamBC
    Mar 15, 2019 at 20:57
  • It used to be the convention in novels that personified attributes were capitalised - while Reason slept, my ship was guided by Desire in league with Passion. Mar 16, 2019 at 9:25

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