A person (plural: persons or people; from , meaning "mask") is a being, such as a human, that has certain capacities or attributes constituting personhood, the precise definition of which is the subject of much controversy.
In ancient Rome, the word "persona" (Latin) or "prosopon" (πρόσωπον: Greek) originally referred to the masks worn by actors on stage. The various masks represented the various "personae" in the stage play, while the masks themselves helped the actor's voice resonate and made it easier for the audience to hear.
In Roman law, the word "persona" became used to refer to a role played in court, and it became established that it was the role rather than the actor that could have rights, powers, and duties, because different individuals could assume the same roles, the rights, powers, and duties followed the role rather than the actor, and each individual could act in more than one role, each a different "person" in law.
The concept of a "person" was further developed during the Trinitarianism and Christology debates of the first through sixth centuries. Since then, a number of important changes to the word's meaning and use have taken place, and attempts have been made to redefine the word with varying degrees of adoption and influence. Many modern speakers of colloquial English conflate the meanings of role and actor, which can result in some confusion when they try to enter into legal discourse.