characteristic

noun
char·​ac·​ter·​is·​tic | \ ˌker-ik-tə-ˈri-stik, 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 , 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

And bioweapons have specific characteristics that make verification and enforcement difficult compared to chemical and nuclear weapons. R. Daniel Bressler, Vox, "“Designer bugs”: how the next pandemic might come from a lab," 6 Dec. 2018 Previous black Barbies failed commercially because people complained that except for her skin tone, the doll had the physical characteristics of a blond Barbie. Michael Livingston, latimes.com, "Barbie may struggle with math. But Mattel has had bigger problems with its line of dolls," 10 Mar. 2018 Based on characteristics such as the objects' movement, the researchers think the objects are dusty stellar objects called G-objects. Chelsea Gohd, Space.com, "Mysterious 'Puffy' Objects Lurk Near the Milky Way's Monster Black Hole," 11 June 2018 The Chinese ruler has been likened to the cartoon bear in the past, with critics of Xi mocking him for having similar physical characteristics to the portly bear. Natasha Bach, Fortune, "Why China Is Censoring Winnie the Pooh—And the Letter ‘N’," 1 Mar. 2018 Again, the human limitations AI is pushing through are not the creative aspects of the design, rather AI finds new material and production possibilities, which in turn can affect the creative characteristics of the design. Pam Baker, Ars Technica, "Artificial Intelligence and the coming of the self-designing machine," 6 Dec. 2018 This has not necessarily been the result of urban planning, but rather the characteristics of their population. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "How the Archigram architectural collective, profiled in a comprehensive new book, designed for a more radical, and random, future," 26 Nov. 2018 And the other side of that, which is choosing to draw attention to those very characteristics of my identity because visibility and representation are so crucial to model, that this is a possibility for a younger generation of people. Bridget Read, Vogue, "A Brief Oral History of Boygenius," 31 Oct. 2018 Get to know the characteristics of your ovulation and menstrual patterns. Pamela Tsigdinos, Marie Claire, "The Wild World of IVF, Explained," 1 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 Like Unlike most other disease-causing organisms, plant-parasitic nematodes seldom produce any characteristic symptoms. The Editors, Good Housekeeping, "What Are Nematodes? These Tiny Parasites Can Help — Or Hurt — Your Garden," 1 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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Last Updated

19 Jan 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 \

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

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