Difference Between Person and Individual

Person vs Individual

It is quite common for people to refer to a person as an individual and an individual as a person. We tend to use these terms as synonyms and one can find both of them used interchangeably in a single paragraph of writing. But are these terms same? Do they convey same meaning, or are there any differences between a person and an individual to justify the existence of these two different terms? Let us find out.

Person comes from the Greek word persona which means the mask of an actor. In old times an actor used to play more than a single character, and to switch roles, he just used a mask which gave birth to persona. This word was incorporated in English language and gave birth to personality and person. The concept of person is even more primitive that those of mind and body. A person is an entity that walks and thinks (it is not the mind that thinks or the body that walks). Again, a person is a live entity. We do call someone who dies a dead person, but see the addition of the word dead before person. A person is not an island that survives alone. He is a social being, and lives and communicates with others. He has feelings that he shares with others.

This is where the concept of individual comes in. In a society full of persons, we have individuals that display different characteristics. A crowd is composed of individuals but each individual is also a person. The word individual is used in the sense of conveying unique properties or characteristics of a person. People who know a celebrity from close quarters often use the word individual to describe him as a person.

In brief:

Difference between Person and Individual

• Though used interchangeably, the words person and individual connote different meanings

• A person is a human being that thinks and walks

• An individual is a person in a crowd having unique characteristics. Individual connotes individualism and properties that are unique to a person.