1

character

noun char·ac·ter \ ˈker-ik-tər , ˈka-rik- \
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of character

1 a : one of the attributes (see 1attribute 1) or features that make up and distinguish an individual
  • This is a side of her character that few people have seen.
b (1) : a feature used to separate distinguishable things into categories; also : a group or kind so separated
  • advertising of a very primitive character
(2) : the aggregate of distinctive qualities characteristic of a breed, strain, or type
  • a wine of great character
(3) : the detectable expression of the action of a gene or group of genes
c : the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person, group, or nation
  • the character of the American people
d : main or essential nature especially as strongly marked and serving to distinguish
  • excess sewage gradually changed the character of the lake
2 a : one of the persons of a drama or novel
b : the personality or part which an actor recreates
  • an actress who can create a character convincingly
c : characterization especially in drama or fiction
  • a novelist good in both character and setting
d : person, individual
  • a suspicious character
e : a person marked by notable or conspicuous traits
  • quite a character
3 : moral excellence and firmness
  • a man of sound character
4 a : a graphic symbol (such as a hieroglyph or alphabet letter) used in writing or printing
b : a symbol (such as a letter or number) that represents information
  • mathematical characters
; also : a representation of such a symbol that may be accepted by a computer
c : a magical or astrological emblem
d : alphabet
e (1) : writing, printing
(2) : style of writing or printing
  • You know the character to be your brother's?
  • —Shakespeare
(3) : cipher
f : a conventionalized graphic device placed on an object as an indication of ownership, origin, or relationship
5 : reputation
  • the scandal has damaged his character and image
6 : position, capacity
  • his character as a town official
7 : reference 4b
8 : a short literary sketch of the qualities of a social type

characterless

play \-ləs\ adjective
in character
: in accord with a person's usual qualities or traits
  • behaving in character
out of character
: not in accord with a person's usual qualities or traits
  • his rudeness was completely out of character

Examples of character in a Sentence

  1. … this makes everyone believe not only that anyone can be a parent, but also that everyone ought to do it, even those who seem by character or inclination to be ill equipped. —Anna QuindlenNewsweek27 Apr. 2009
  2. Someone with Alzheimer's may undergo a regression to a "second childhood," but aspects of one's essential character, of personality and personhood, of self, survive … —Oliver SacksMusicophilia(2007) 2008
  3. "Beat" is old carny slang. According to Beat Movement legend (and it is a movement with a deep inventory of legend), Ginsberg and Kerouac picked it up from a character named Herbert Huncke, a gay street hustler and drug addict from Chicago who began hanging around Times Square in 1939 … —Louis MenandNew Yorker1 Oct. 2007
  4. Slowly, steadily, Och and Chris passed along their knowledge of the characterof various courses, and the way a race evolves tactically. —Lance ArmstrongIt's Not About the Bike(2000) 2001
  5. Her character struck the Swede back then as a compound in which you'd find just about everything toxic to desperation and dread. At the core of her he could imagine a nucleus of confidence plaited just as neatly and tightly as her braided hair. —Philip RothAmerican Pastoral1997
  6. the unique character of the town

  7. The building is very simple in character.

  8. Their house has a lot of character.

Recent Examples of character from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'character.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Traits of character

Character demonstrates that a word may have many and varied meanings and yet still be easily understood by most listeners when used in disparate settings. We have little trouble distinguishing the meanings of the noun in “she had a fine and noble character,” “Bill is always joking; he’s such a character,” and “He was the last character to appear in the play,” not to mention its many other applications. Character comes ultimately from the Greek charaktēr (“mark, distinctive quality”), which passed through Latin and French before landing in English. The Greek noun itself is derived from the verb charassein, meaning “to sharpen, cut in furrows, or engrave.” The literal sense of the noun (“an engraved or imprinted mark”) existed in Greek, Latin, and French side by side with the figurative one (“a distinctive quality”), and both senses were borrowed into English early on, with a variant of the figurative sense appearing first.

Origin and Etymology of character

Middle English caracter, from Latin character mark, distinctive quality, from Greek charaktēr, from charassein to scratch, engrave; perhaps akin to Lithuanian žerti to scratch

character Synonyms

Synonym Discussion of character

disposition, temperament, temper, character, personality mean the dominant quality or qualities distinguishing a person or group. disposition implies customary moods and attitude toward the life around one.
    • a cheerful disposition
temperament implies a pattern of innate characteristics associated with one's specific physical and nervous organization.
    • an artistic temperament
temper implies the qualities acquired through experience that determine how a person or group meets difficulties or handles situations.
    • a resilient temper
character applies to the aggregate of moral qualities by which a person is judged apart from intelligence, competence, or special talents.
    • strength of character
personality applies to an aggregate of qualities that distinguish one as a person.
    • a somber personality
quality, property, character, attribute mean an intelligible feature by which a thing may be identified. quality is a general term applicable to any trait or characteristic whether individual or generic.
    • material with a silky quality
property implies a characteristic that belongs to a thing's essential nature and may be used to describe a type or species.
    • the property of not conducting heat
character applies to a peculiar and distinctive quality of a thing or a class.
    • remarks of an unseemly character
attribute implies a quality ascribed to a thing or a being.
    • the attributes of a military hero
type, kind, sort, nature, description, character mean a number of individuals thought of as a group because of a common quality or qualities. type may suggest strong and clearly marked similarity throughout the items included so that each is typical of the group.
    • one of three basic body types
kind may suggest natural grouping.
    • a zoo seemingly having animals of every kind
sort often suggests some disparagement.
    • the sort of newspaper dealing in sensational stories
nature may imply inherent, essential resemblance rather than obvious or superficial likenesses.
    • two problems of a similar nature
description implies a group marked by agreement in all details belonging to a type as described or defined.
    • not all acts of that description are actually illegal
character implies a group marked by distinctive likenesses peculiar to the type.
    • research on the subject so far has been of an elementary character

2

character

adjective

Definition of character

1 : capable of portraying an unusual or eccentric personality often markedly different from the player
  • a character actor
2 : requiring or involving the portrayal of an unusual or eccentric personality
  • a character role

Recent Examples of character from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'character.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of character


3

character

verb

Definition of character

transitive verb
1 a : characterize
b archaic : represent, portray
2 archaic : engrave, inscribe

Examples of character in a Sentence

  1. formerly charactered as “the dark ages,” that period of history may not have been quite so benighted as once thought

Recent Examples of character from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'character.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of character

Other Performing Arts Terms



CHARACTER Defined for English Language Learners

character

noun

Definition of character for English Language Learners

  • : the way someone thinks, feels, and behaves : someone's personality

  • : a set of qualities that are shared by many people in a group, country, etc.

  • : a set of qualities that make a place or thing different from other places or things


CHARACTER Defined for Kids

character

noun char·ac·ter \ ˈker-ək-tər \

Definition of character for Students

1 : a mark, sign, or symbol (as a letter or figure) used in writing or printing
2 : the group of qualities that make a person, group, or thing different from others
  • The town has special character.
3 : a distinguishing feature : characteristic
  • the plant's bushy character
4 : a person who says or does funny or unusual things
  • Your friend is quite a character.
5 : a person in a story or play
6 : the usually good opinions that most people have about a particular person : reputation
  • She made an attack on his character.
7 : moral excellence
  • She is a person of character known for her honesty.

Medical Dictionary

character

noun char·ac·ter \ ˈkar-ik-tər \

medical Definition of character

1 : one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish the individual
2 : the detectable expression of the action of a gene or group of genes
3 : the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person, group, or nation


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