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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The most impactful characteristic of La Niña in North America is its role in hurricane season. Judson Jones And Virginia Langmaid, CNN, "NOAA issues a La Niña watch, the impetus for an active hurricane season," 9 July 2020 Only the drivetrain's tendency to buck in its soft rubber mounts under a less than sensitive throttle foot (a characteristic shared with the Civic and Accord) undercuts its wonderfulness. Michael Jordan, Car and Driver, "Tested: 1982 Honda City Makes a Case for Minicars in America," 9 July 2020 That’s especially true if patients don’t have the bullseye rash— known medically as erythema migrans—characteristic of Lyme disease. Carrie Arnold, Popular Science, "COVID-19 testing problems are all too familiar to Lyme disease patients," 28 June 2020 What is the catalyzing characteristic that draws Lithgow to a role? Dan Snierson, EW.com, "John Lithgow reveals the roles that fans most recognize him for," 28 June 2020 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective For each characteristic, respondents could choose a rating of excellent, above average, average, below average, or poor. Travel + Leisure, "Methodology: How We Conduct the World’s Best Awards 2020," 8 July 2020 The fiery, cautionary shade, little seen within living rooms, is characteristic of his work as a whole, which often has an almost defiantly undomestic feel. New York Times, "A Designer Who Makes Rugs Based on Screenshots," 7 July 2020 An emphasis for the A’s in this short season is avoiding what has become a characteristic slow start. Matt Kawahara, SFChronicle.com, "A’s 2020 schedule: Five things to watch," 6 July 2020 Crackdowns like these, so characteristic of the past month of protests, evoke what happened in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn: a riot against police harassment. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Pride Can’t Go Back to What It Was Before," 30 June 2020 In characteristic style, Mr. Trump backed his preference for bilateral trade deals over multilateral affairs with a threat – to veto all nominations to the seven-judge appellate body and thus disarm it. Peter Ford, The Christian Science Monitor, "Power shift: How America’s retreat is reshaping global affairs," 26 June 2020 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

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for characteristic

Time Traveler

The first known use of characteristic was in 1646

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Statistics for characteristic

Last Updated

31 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Characteristic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/characteristic. Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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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

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Comments on characteristic

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