characteristic

noun
char·​ac·​ter·​is·​tic | \ ˌker-ik-tə-ˈri-stik How to pronounce characteristic (audio) , ˌka-rik- \

Definition of characteristic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a distinguishing trait, quality, or property the characteristics of this breed of dog
2 : the integral part of a common logarithm
3 : the smallest positive integer n which for an operation in a ring or field yields 0 when any element is used n times with the operation

characteristic

adjective

Definition of characteristic (Entry 2 of 2)

: revealing, distinguishing, or typical of an individual character a poetic style characteristic of the epic

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from characteristic

Adjective

characteristically \ ˌker-​ik-​tə-​ˈri-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce characteristically (audio) , ˌka-​rik-​ \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for characteristic

Adjective

characteristic, individual, peculiar, distinctive mean indicating a special quality or identity. characteristic applies to something that distinguishes or identifies a person or thing or class. responded with her characteristic wit individual stresses qualities that distinguish one from all other members of the same kind or class. a highly individual writing style peculiar applies to qualities possessed only by a particular individual or class or kind and stresses rarity or uniqueness. an eccentricity that is peculiar to the British distinctive indicates qualities distinguishing and uncommon and often superior or praiseworthy. a distinctive aura of grace and elegance

Examples of characteristic in a Sentence

Noun the ability to fashion tools and other characteristics that distinguish human beings from other animals Adjective He responded to their comments with characteristic good humor. the characteristic taste of licorice
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The first is agency, a characteristic of the main character in your story (which is you). Kristen Rogers, CNN, "If losing your job to the pandemic destroyed your identity, here's how to find it," 18 June 2020 But Democrats who have watched Biden’s VP process say neither woman seems to have eclipsed Harris in Biden’s single most-important characteristic for running mate, ability to step into the job of president on Day One. Jennifer Epstein, Bloomberg.com, "Kamala Harris Is on Strong Footing in Biden’s Vice Presidential Search," 15 June 2020 Quality seems to be a prominent characteristic of Lovello Elizabeth. Jamila Stewart, Essence, "Lovello Elizabeth Is The Go-To For Minimalistic Loungewear," 9 June 2020 The desire and need to work is a defining characteristic of trade school graduates, according to Dr. Joe May, Chancellor of Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD). Cara Korte, CBS News, "Ready to work, trade school students face adversity during COVID pandemic," 4 June 2020 The Euler characteristic for surfaces belongs to a series of invariants that allow mathematicians to explore shapes in higher dimensions as well. Quanta Magazine, "In a Single Measure, Invariants Capture the Essence of Math Objects," 2 June 2020 This is a common characteristic of fish parasites: starting and ending their life inside birds. Joe Genzel, Outdoor Life, "10 Common Parasites and Diseases Found in Game Fish (and What You Need to Know About Them)," 27 May 2020 His voice conveys the requisite pitch of menace and malice, at once impulsive and premeditated, as well as the sly humor that was a characteristic of so much of Highsmith’s fiction. Sarah Weinman, New York Times, "‘Killing People in Fiction Was Fun’: Mysteries That Have Stood the Test of Time," 15 May 2020 But a disregard for scientific advice has been a defining characteristic of Trump’s administration. Lisa Friedman, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump’s response to virus reflects a long disregard for science," 28 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective During this moment of devastation and uncertainty and horror, our characteristic American patriotism has (finally) expanded to include our health care system. Daniel Barron, Scientific American, "Health Care Workers Don't Want to Be Heroes," 21 June 2020 Told with Yates's characteristic irreverence and wit, interspersed with the words of others who were there, Cannonball! Colin Beresford, Car and Driver, "Eight Books Every Auto Enthusiast Should Read, and One for the Kids," 20 June 2020 Wolff, with his characteristic go-for-broke swagger, took a shot. Gilbert Garcia, ExpressNews.com, "Garcia: Wolff calls Abbott’s bluff on mask regulations," 19 June 2020 Fig preserves are marvelous mixed into this ice cream, which brings in that characteristic fig texture and flavor. Nik Sharma, SFChronicle.com, "A Brown Kitchen: Rosemary, fig & goat cheese ice cream," 18 June 2020 Breedlove’s perspective is characteristic of the bipartisan response to Trump’s unexpected decision to withdraw roughly 9,500 U.S. service members from Germany. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "Former NATO commander warns against withdrawing troops from Germany," 18 June 2020 Though on both planets the green hue is characteristic of oxygen in the atmosphere, the astronomers noted some differences in the resulting emissions of light. NBC News, "In the atmosphere of Mars, a green glow offers scientists hints for future visits," 16 June 2020 Trump’s determination to hype an economic turnaround despite a highly uncertain forecast reflects not just his characteristic salesmanship but deepening anxiety about his political prospects five months from the election. Eli Stokols, Los Angeles Times, "Trump claims victory although crises continue," 5 June 2020 The liquid curdled after mixing with the goat or sheep rennet lining the saddlebags, creating the characteristic chunks that now star in many Punjabi and Indian dishes. Popular Science, "Eight international cheeses you need to try once," 4 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'characteristic.' 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 characteristic

Noun

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1647, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for characteristic

Noun

see character entry 1

Adjective

see character entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about characteristic

Time Traveler for characteristic

Time Traveler

The first known use of characteristic was in 1646

See more words from the same year

Statistics for characteristic

Last Updated

25 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Characteristic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/characteristic. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for characteristic

characteristic

noun
How to pronounce characteristic (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of characteristic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a special quality or trait that makes a person, thing, or group different from others

characteristic

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of characteristic (Entry 2 of 2)

: typical of a person, thing, or group : showing the special qualities or traits of a person, thing, or group

characteristic

noun
char·​ac·​ter·​is·​tic | \ ˌker-ək-tə-ˈri-stik How to pronounce characteristic (audio) \

Kids Definition of characteristic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a special quality or appearance that makes an individual or a group different from others physical characteristics Gentleness is a characteristic of this dog breed.

characteristic

adjective

Kids Definition of characteristic (Entry 2 of 2)

: serving to distinguish an individual or a group : typical of a person, thing, or group He replied with characteristic good humor.

Other Words from characteristic

characteristically \ ˌker-​ək-​tə-​ˈris-​ti-​kə-​lē \ adverb She was characteristically cheerful.

characteristic

adjective
char·​ac·​ter·​is·​tic | \ ˌkar-ik-tə-ˈris-tik How to pronounce characteristic (audio) \

Medical Definition of characteristic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: serving to reveal and distinguish the individual character

Other Words from characteristic

characteristically \ -​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce characteristically (audio) \ adverb

characteristic

noun

Medical Definition of characteristic (Entry 2 of 2)

: a distinguishing trait, quality, or property

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on characteristic

What made you want to look up characteristic? 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

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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!