characteristic

noun
char·​ac·​ter·​is·​tic | \ˌker-ik-tə-ˈris-tik, 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 \ -​ti-​k(ə-​)lē \ 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

And other characteristics of the physical environment, such as daily sunshine and mild winters, don't actually seem to matter much. Christopher Ingraham, chicagotribune.com, "More money, more fitness: Why people in the wealthiest states get more exercise," 5 July 2018 Though their names are rather clinical, P-66, P-67, P-68 and P-69 proved to be photogenic when researchers swooped in to determine their age, size and other characteristics. latimes.com, "Today: Will It Take an Act of Congress?," 20 June 2018 The InTouch infotainment system has been updated, allowing drivers to personalize driving characteristics and the cabin environment using the 8.0-inch dash touch screen, as well as through buttons beneath the screen and on the steering wheel. star-telegram, "Infiniti QX80 full-size luxury SUV brings elegance, technology to the family hauler," 30 June 2018 The pollster selected a district based on various demographic and socio-economic characteristics and one that voted in line with the past three election results. Benjamin Harvey, Bloomberg.com, "Turkey’s Election Is Too Close to Call, Bloomberg Poll Shows," 13 June 2018 This preoccupation with race as part of biology teaches us that race is an integral part of diagnosis and treatment, a characteristic that becomes indelible from pathology. Jennifer W. Tsai, STAT, "You can’t tell a book by its cover — or a disease by Drake’s race," 11 July 2018 One exception is if that denial is actually a cover for discrimination based on characteristics such as race, gender, national origin or religion, which are protected under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Charisse Jones, USA TODAY, "Restaurants kicking out Trump supporters: Unlike race or religion, it's legal," 27 June 2018 The research proved that crocodiles can’t always be identified based on outward characteristics alone, as keepers had thought. Shanna Baker, Smithsonian, "The Quest to Preserve the Last of Castro’s Crocodiles," 21 June 2018 Megan's grandmother was an extremely heavy smoker who underwent a tracheotomy in her final years — a defining characteristic that transcended its mortal form. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "A Beginner’s Guide to Communicating With Spirits on the Other Side," 19 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Don’s characteristic watermelon spots and stripes camouflage young tapirs in their forest habitat in Mexico, Central America and Colombia. Bradley J. Fikes, sandiegouniontribune.com, "For the Fourth, bring out the (San Diego Zoo) babies!," 3 July 2018 These lines recall Dolores’s characteristic speech about the splendor that fills the park’s landscape. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Puzzled by Westworld? Look to Shakespeare.," 26 June 2018 Even in this antipathetic context, Aldrich manages to find room for his characteristic intimations of breakdown and approaching chaos. Patrick Friel, Chicago Reader, "Dance / Film / On Video Joan Crawford shines in five Hollywood classics," 26 June 2018 And, it's been a turbulent season for any and all fans of West, whose characteristic erratic behavior reached an all time high in late April. Rebecca Farley, refinery29.com, "Kanye West Opens Up About Suicidal Thoughts, Being Bipolar, & Trump," 25 June 2018 The Paris Saint-Germain forward had been at the heart of Brazil’s problems against Switzerland, the self-indulgence that has become the characteristic feature of his game in France interrupting the flow of the national side. Jonathan Wilson, SI.com, "Brazil Secures Its Win, but Neymar's Actions Remain a Lightning Rod," 22 June 2018 Football also fits two characteristic features of Latin American culture like a glove. The Economist, "Latin America searches for redemption on the football pitch," 21 June 2018 Pringles are a Frankensnack, the pink slime of chips: They’re formed from a paste of rice, wheat, corn and potato flakes, and reconstituted into their characteristic curvy shape before being sprayed with a flavor coating. Maura Judkis, Houston Chronicle, "Pringles could never have captured Nashville’s hot chicken in a chip," 13 July 2018 These detectors are designed to pick up the characteristic blue light emitted after a neutrino interacts with an atomic nucleus. Mike Wall, NBC News, "High-energy 'ghost particle' traced to distant galaxy in astronomy breakthrough," 12 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.

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

Share characteristic

Statistics for characteristic

Last Updated

26 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for characteristic

The first known use of characteristic was in 1646

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

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 \

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 \ 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

a private place of worship

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

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!