Keeping personification as a related (yet opposite) concept, is there a term that means "to give humans lifeless or inanimate appearance"?

For example, in a recent photo shoot, the photographer placed us behind some tree branches, to blend us and make us look like a part of it. So, as one of the answers below suggests, she depersonalized us, but in a positive, artistic manner.

Edit: this is the photo that made me try to come up with a good word to describe its style: https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/q71/s720x720/1375270_606767022702401_1593703055_n.jpg

  • 1
    ‘Depersonification’? ‘Disanthropomorphism’? Oct 1, 2013 at 14:30
  • I found one usage of disanthropomorphism in this book, sounds like a good lead: books.google.com/… Oct 1, 2013 at 14:34
  • Could you give us some contexts? As it stands, your question could be answered by killing which is probably not what you want. Could you use the desired word in a sentence?
    – terdon
    Oct 1, 2013 at 14:35
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    Something something uncanny valley.
    – RegDwigнt
    Oct 1, 2013 at 14:36
  • how about dehumanize?
    – Tom Swifty
    Oct 1, 2013 at 14:39

3 Answers 3


Would you consider the word exanimation as an antonym for personification in this context? There are no positive or negative undertones for this version of anti-personification. exanimate

lacking life, spiritless, inanimate, lifeless deprived of life, a lifeless body

I will offer yet another technical term: antiprosopopoeia


the representation of persons as inanimate objects.

A third alternative is deanthropomorphism.

Sorry I'm given to techincal parlance - it's an occupational hazard.

  • +1 for antiprosopopoeia. This seems to be a literary device.
    – rajah9
    Oct 1, 2013 at 16:05

In exact terms:

Objectify 1. To present or regard as an object

You could also try depersonalizse.

  1. make impersonal or present as an object

Note that BOTH of these words also carry the connotation of treating the person as if they were of lesser value. They're also more metaphorical, and imply the way in which people are treated, rather than the way in which they appear. BUT, because that meaning is understood, you could use them to mean what you want them to in the proper context.

Be explicit in using them though, as a misunderstanding is possible due to the more common connotation of devaluing.

  • This is a great start. I wonder if there is one word that would have a more neutral connotation? Oct 1, 2013 at 15:27
  • Finding it will be hard for sure. The act of turning a human into a non-human thing has a lot of emotional baggage attached to it, and any word you choose is pretty likely to carry some of that.
    – Zibbobz
    Oct 1, 2013 at 15:41

It's not in Merriam-Webster, but you'll find the word mannequinize used to describe the process or effect, such as in this article.

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