Something living has a personality or persona of its own. Similarly, is there a word that can be used in the case of describing a non-living thing, say, a portrait?

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    The word character is often used in this way, like that chair made of antique reclaimed wood really has character, or this cutesy middle American small town really has some character. That kind of thing.
    – Dan Bron
    May 9 '16 at 16:05
  • in the same sense we can also use life as in the painting has life of it's own . What do u thing? May 9 '16 at 16:10
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    You can say that, but that is more active, involving decisions, whereas personalities and characters speak to inherent traits, or salient aspects of the object.
    – Dan Bron
    May 9 '16 at 16:12
  • 'Personification'?
    – Mitch
    May 9 '16 at 19:26

I go for singularity (or singular), meaning

  1. The quality or condition of being singular.

  2. A trait marking one as distinct from others; a peculiarity.

  3. Something uncommon or unusual.

The French language has a phrase which summarizes the notion of singularity, and that is

je ne sais quoi,

which is defined as "an intangible quality that makes something distinctive or attractive."

In English we might say about something with singularity (such as a portrait),

It has a certain something. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it's there just the same.


We know personality is too much connected with people, maybe because it has the word "person" in it or maybe something else, so what we need is a word that means the same and can be used for things other than an actual person. I use Individuality because both a living or non-living thing can have individuality.

It means:

distinctive or unique character or personality

the qualities that distinguish one person or thing from another

the state or quality of being a separate entity

All three of the above definitions impart separate shades of traits to the word. When used properly it can get the intent through.

Example: A painting of great individuality

Also see, Definition of individuality at dictionary.com

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