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

Discover, best known for its credit cards, plans to use artificial intelligence to assess hundreds of unusual characteristics about personal-loan applicants in an attempt to get its rising losses under control. Annamaria Andriotis, WSJ, "Shopping at Discount Stores Could Help Get You a Loan," 4 Mar. 2019 All of the characteristics Sontag identifies as criteria for camp will be expressed through fashion pieces selected by Bolton and his colleagues in an open piazza to reflect the concept’s relatively recent social acceptance. Luke Leitch, Vogue, "“From Sun Kings to Drag Queens:” Alessandro Michele, Anna Wintour, and Andrew Bolton Set Up Camp in Milan," 22 Feb. 2019 So besides age, what makes these two generations totally different?Here are some of the defining characteristics that are said to belong to Gen Z... Yerin Kim, Seventeen, "How Gen Z and Millennials Are Totally Different," 17 Jan. 2019 For the second year in a row, Knaus is set to debut a new camper van that has some of the sporty characteristics prized by SUV owners. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Camper vans get a race car makeover," 17 Aug. 2018 Eugenics is often defined as the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. David Jesse, Detroit Free Press, "U-M strips name of former president, eugenics supporter from science building," 29 Mar. 2018 There are a number of troublesome phrases used to describe the same characteristics in men and women differently in the context of managing-director reviews, said Anu Aiyengar, the bank’s head of North American mergers and acquisitions. ... Michelle Ma, WSJ, "Top Wall Street Women Say Technology Can Help Close the Gender Gap," 21 Mar. 2019 Biometrics Will Be Here, There, and Everywhere Travelers can expect to see greater use of human biometric data—like facial recognition and other physical characteristics—to board airplanes, pass through customs, and drop bags in 2019. Kristen Leigh Painter, Condé Nast Traveler, "How Air Travel Will Change in 2019," 13 Dec. 2018 Traditional smartphones process color, white balance, exposure, and other optical characteristics to create an image. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Meet Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855: AI boosts, a smarter camera, mobile gaming—and bye-bye, JPEG," 5 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Doonan, the writer and Barneys creative-ambassador-at-large, recounts with characteristic humor and irreverence how this came to pass. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Glorious, Bizarre History of Soccer and Fashion," 18 June 2018 Laparoscopic surgery offers the best chance of getting rid of lesions that cause endometriosis’ characteristic agony, although in some cases (including Hyland's) one surgery isn't enough to get rid of all the lesions that cause pain. Zahra Barnes, SELF, "Sarah Hyland Opens Up About Dialysis and Her Second Kidney Transplant," 10 Dec. 2018 The world’s great launch facilities each have their own characteristic biome. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "As the SpaceX steamroller surges, European rocket industry vows to resist," 20 July 2018 Remember, sweet Pisces, that your characteristic wellsprings of compassion start with curiosity. Bess Matassa, Teen Vogue, "Monthly Lovescopes October 2018," 3 Oct. 2018 Some companies are brushing off the import tax with characteristic tech-bubble braggadocio. Alex Orlando, The Verge, "Trump’s trade war is coming for cheap scooters and the startups that love them," 17 Aug. 2018 Distinctive bodywork gave it a much wider track thanks to massively flared side extensions, a characteristic flat nose, and in the case of the 935/78 for the 1978 24 Hours of Le Mans, a massive whale tail at the rear. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Porsche debuts new $800,000 racer inspired by the iconic 935 Le Mans car," 28 Sep. 2018 Naturally occurring bubbles are characteristic of sparkling water. Kristen Fischer, Fox News, "Is seltzer good for you?," 9 Sep. 2018 The home team overwhelmed Chicago with their characteristic speed on the counter, led by teenager Alphonso Davies, a very active Yordy Reyna and Kei Kamara, who was responsible for the Whitecaps' first goal in the 23rd minute. Juan Pimiento, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago Fire's unbeaten streak ends with a loss in Vancouver," 7 July 2018

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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Statistics for characteristic

Last Updated

13 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for characteristic

The first known use of characteristic was in 1646

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More Definitions for characteristic

characteristic

noun

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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