So there we were, trying to decide whether the plural of VIP was “very important persons” or “very important people,” when I ran into the following:
- c.1225, from O.Fr. persone “human being” (12c., Fr. personne), from L. persona “human being,” originally “character in a drama, mask,” possibly borrowed from Etruscan phersu “mask.” This may be related to Gk. Persephone. The use of -person to replace -man in compounds and avoid alleged sexist connotations is first recorded 1971 (in chairperson). Personify first recorded 1727. Personable “pleasing in one’s person” is first attested c.1430. In person “by bodily presence” is from 1568. Person-to-person first recorded 1919, originally of telephone calls.
So a person comes from a mask?
(Etymology.com may be a new favorite site for yours truly. Desire coming from “await what the stars will bring” de sidere. Also, you can sponsor words. Bear (n.) is taken for the next six months, FYI.)