character

noun
char·​ac·​ter | \ ˈker-ik-tər How to pronounce character (audio) , ˈka-rik- \

Definition of character

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : one of the attributes (see attribute entry 1 sense 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
2a : 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
4a : 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
(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
8 : a short literary sketch of the qualities of a social type
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

character

adjective

Definition of character (Entry 2 of 3)

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

character

verb
charactered; charactering; characters

Definition of character (Entry 3 of 3)

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from character

Noun

characterless \ ˈker-​ik-​tər-​ləs How to pronounce characterless (audio) , ˈka-​rik-​ \ adjective

Synonyms for character

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for character

Noun

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

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.

Examples of character in a Sentence

Noun … 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 Quindlen, Newsweek, 27 Apr. 2009 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 Sacks, Musicophilia, (2007) 2008 "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 Menand, New Yorker, 1 Oct. 2007 Slowly, steadily, Och and Chris passed along their knowledge of the characterof various courses, and the way a race evolves tactically. — Lance Armstrong, It's Not About the Bike, (2000) 2001 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 Roth, American Pastoral, 1997 the unique character of the town The building is very simple in character. Their house has a lot of character. Verb formerly charactered as “the dark ages,” that period of history may not have been quite so benighted as once thought
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The most vivid characters in her narrative are all dead—women who lost their lives, most to gun violence. Caroline Fraser, The New York Review of Books, "When Will We Care About Domestic Violence?," 13 May 2020 Jane is one of the smartest characters in the genre, certainly smarter than IQ. Joe Ide, Los Angeles Times, "‘IQ’ author Joe Ide recommends insomnia reading and listening in quarantine," 11 May 2020 Hamill introduced the world to the complex character in the saga's 1977 debut created by George Lucas which turned the former soap opera actor into a superstar. Rosy Cordero, EW.com, "Mark Hamill explains why his time on Star Wars is officially over," 11 May 2020 Diatchenko voiced characters in video games from the Red Alert, Iron Man, Call of Duty and Tomb Raider franchises and on such animated TV series as Family Guy, The Wild Thornberries and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Thr Staff, The Hollywood Reporter, "Dimitri Diatchenko, Actor, Musician and Video Game Voiceover Artist, Dies at 52," 1 May 2020 On its own, however, a buttery character in Chardonnay can be beautiful. Esther Mobley, SFChronicle.com, "In defense of buttery Chardonnay," 30 Apr. 2020 The Queen and a young Prince Charles are both characters in the episode. Emily Dixon, Marie Claire, "Prince Harry Will Introduce a Royal Episode of 'Thomas the Tank Engine'," 28 Apr. 2020 But the characters in Bad Education are so expertly drawn, the thorny issues so well teased out, and the path to discovery so rewarding, that a personal connection is hardly needed to appreciate it. Holly Ojalvo, Quartz, "The high school in “Bad Education” rings true. I know because I taught there myself," 22 Apr. 2020 The other finalist is a nice portrait that utilized good lighting techniques and showcased the character in her own environment. Dallas News, "Student journalists win Dallas Morning News contest for covering tornadoes, homecoming, vaping and more," 20 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Character witnesses for Storm include a parade of foster puppies the Freeleys have taken in over the last month. Sarah Maslin Nir, New York Times, "Dog Praised as Hero for Saving Deer (Whether He Meant To or Not)," 18 July 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This is a game about moving through space and slaying demons, not character development or world-building. Matthew Gault, Time, "Doom Eternal Is the Best Doom Game Ever Made, Period," 19 Mar. 2020 His commitment to character specificity in detail and fearless pursuit of authenticity in his work have influenced not only myself, but entire generations. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, "Leonardo DiCaprio recalls Robert De Niro's 'monumental' influence on his early acting career," 20 Jan. 2020 What if our world were simply a hyper-realistic simulation, with all of us merely characters in some kind of sophisticated video game? Dan Falk, NBC News, "Are we living in a simulated universe? Here's what scientists say.," 6 July 2019 In lamenting the loss, Ball and one of his concept artists, Derek Zabrocki, revealed all the work that went into the development, from concept art to character molds to costumes to a previz video of what the motion-capture could’ve felt like. Nick Romano, EW.com, "Mouse Guard director reveals dramatic demo reel for canceled fantasy epic," 26 June 2019 The similarities between Markle and Prince Harry and the Love Actually characters Sam and Joanna are eerie. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "7 Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Conspiracy Theories So Ridiculous You Have to Laugh," 18 July 2018 Unlike some other Victorian mystery series, this one hews less to period details and more to character development as Lenox unravels the mystery of the murder of a woman found in a trunk on an island along the Thames. Bethanne Patrick, The Seattle Times, "Six beach reads that bring more pleasure than guilt," 2 July 2018 But that might be because the pilot glosses over every aspect of the story, from art design to character development and plot construction. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "NBC’s new VR thriller Reverie is a schmaltzy take on techno-dystopia," 30 May 2018 That kind of explosiveness could make K-State a more formidable NCAA draw if Wade and Brown indeed are back, and the Wildcats also had to be encouraged by some solid performances off the bench and the testament to character that their rally was. Vahe Gregorian, kansascity, ""Grossed out:" Barry Brown's eye injury stifles K-State but bigger opportunity awaits | The Kansas City Star," 9 Mar. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of character

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4f

Adjective

1841, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for character

Noun, Adjective, and Verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about character

Time Traveler for character

Time Traveler

The first known use of character was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for character

Last Updated

15 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Character.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/character. Accessed 27 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for character

character

noun
How to pronounce character (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of character

: 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

noun
char·​ac·​ter | \ ˈker-ək-tər How to pronounce character (audio) \

Kids Definition of character

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.

character

noun
char·​ac·​ter | \ ˈkar-ik-tər How to pronounce character (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on character

What made you want to look up character? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Obscure Shapes

  • a pile of three dimensional shapes in green
  • Something that is ooid is shaped like:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!