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I'm writing about impersonators and people being impersonated in general terms and having 'the impersonator' and 'the person being impersonated' is cumbersome at best.

'Impersonatee' sort of works, but isn't great. Any ideas?

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    How about victim?
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Sep 23, 2013 at 10:52
  • The 'owner-of-the-hair-whose-polyjuice-potion-the-impersonator-drank'? :) Commented Sep 23, 2013 at 10:54
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    Victim is good except for the negative connotation Commented Sep 23, 2013 at 10:58
  • Original can work, but I don't think it fits for people.
    – Kobi
    Commented Sep 23, 2013 at 11:20
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    Target is more neutral than victim. Or something along the lines of role or identity. That being said, -ee is productive, and impersonatee would be universally understood.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Sep 23, 2013 at 15:14

6 Answers 6

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Subject
The person being depicted or portrayed by a painter, an artist, or in this case an impersonator.

The impersonator's favourite subjects were politicians and well-known singers.


Edit
One of Britain's most famous and loved impersonators during the 1970s and early '80s was Mike Yarwood. Yarwood enjoyed stratospheric popularity in the years when British television only had three channels. In the wikipedia page dedicated to the entertainer the term, subjects, is used.

Most of his most famous subjects, such as Heath and Wilson, retired from public life or died and he was unable to master new prominent figures, most significantly, the country's first woman Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

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I really think that you can make do with good old nominal adjectives, which act almost like nouns.

In the sentence, "I read two books to them; he preferred the sad book, but she preferred the happy", happy is a nominal adjective, short for "happy one" or "happy book".

Therefore: the impersonated.

I don't see why you've all decided to ignore that. How is the impersonated less of a noun than impersonatee or impersonate?

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    Would impersonated indicate that it happened in the past? Whereas the proposed impersonatee would be indifferent to the tense? I'm unsure myself, just a conversation piece. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 10:23
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"Impersonatee" should be considered a technical term. I have scoured the internet and it is used in places like Wikipedia, Oracle, SAP,CA Technologies. It seems to be mostly used to describe a user within an computer application that will be impersonated by an administrator. This is used to help troubleshoot/debug for customer service when a user is having a problem with that application. I vote to add this to the dictionary.

Example from Oracle's Fusion Middleware Administering Oracle WebCenter Portal:

WebCenter Portal Impersonation lets a WebCenter Portal administrator or system administrator assign impersonation rights to a group of users ("impersonators"), such as support representatives or application administrators, so that they can perform operations as other users ("impersonatees"). Note that this is subject to the impersonatee granting the impersonator additional rights to impersonate them.

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  • Hi Tony, and welcome to our site. If you've found references to the word, please cite them in your answer, preferably with both examples and links. We rely on this added reference material to be able to distinguish between mere opinion (and perhaps incorrect opinion at that) and an authoritative answer. For further guidance, see How to Answer. Make sure you also take the Tour :-) Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 4:33
  • To whom are you submitting this vote, Tony?
    – Davo
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 11:04
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I can think of character or personality. Advise if wrong.

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imitatee - "One that is imitated" (from Merriam-Webster)

Admittedly, that's the only mainstream online dictionary I can find it in, but it may be in larger print dictionaries.

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  • My copy of the American Heritage Dictionary (which is 2100 pages long, approx, with a spine-length of about a foot) does not have 'imitatee'. :) Commented Sep 23, 2013 at 14:14
  • I just checked the OED; it returned: No dictionary entries found for ‘imitatee’. It's certainly not a common word.
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 23, 2013 at 17:27
  • Imitatee is a technical term. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3574936 psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1935-04184-001 Not really used for impersonators.
    – dcaswell
    Commented Sep 23, 2013 at 20:04
  • As I suspected. Commented Sep 24, 2013 at 9:20
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You can call them a model.

The dictionary definition of model applicable in this instance is

a person or thing that serves as a subject for an artist, sculptor, writer, etc.

a standard to be imitated: she was my model for good scholarship

eg. Elvis is a popular model for impersonators.

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    My first thought was, "Wait! A model is something you try to copy or replicate, not impersonate," but then I thought, "Well, impersonators certainly try to copy..." Still, this answer sounds not-quite-right for some reason. It vexes me, but in a very good way.
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 23, 2013 at 17:34
  • It's probably a good choice for certain examples (like entertainers) but not others (like identity theft). Commented Sep 24, 2013 at 21:06

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