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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 In addition to obvious information, the publication also lists observations on additional characteristics like color and flesh and skin thickness. Kjerstin Gabrielson, OregonLive.com, "Master Gardeners put vegetable varieties to the test in Oregon for new publication," 12 June 2018 Bills said there are a few characteristics to an appropriate owl house. Caroline Blackmon, Detroit Free Press, "5 ways to rid your home and yard of rats without using poison," 1 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Both are easy to identify and cause characteristic symptoms. National Geographic, "Think Your Body Is Infested With Insects? You're Not Alone.," 22 June 2018 Unlike most other disease causing organisms, plant parasitic nematodes seldom produce any characteristic symptoms. The Editors Of Organic Life, Good Housekeeping, "What Are Nematodes? Are They Friendly Worms? Or Deadly Parasites?," 1 Mar. 2017 The approach was characteristic for a man who has planned presidential trips and catered to the whims and demands of every Republican president since Ronald Reagan. Jeremy Diamond And Kevin Liptak, CNN, "Trump's man with the Singapore plan: Joe Hagin," 3 June 2018 But in another way the Coney Island photo is also characteristic. Ben Yagoda, WSJ, "‘Flash’ Review: New York After Dark," 1 June 2018 Exposed brick walls and tons of pine-wood detailing give the restaurant a homey, relaxed feel that's very characteristic of Chattanooga. Tara Massouleh, AL.com, "How to spend 24 hours in Chattanooga, Tennessee," 25 Apr. 2018 The retort — which earned her an apology from National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow — was characteristic of Haley, who has a knack for responding to criticism and slights with a measured, but assertive clapback. Katie Reilly, Time, "Nikki Haley’s ‘I Don't Get Confused’ Comment Demonstrated Her Gift for the Clapback," 18 Apr. 2018 The concept, spearhead by a team out of Cornell University led by Steven Ceron, makes use of popcorn's characteristic ability to turn heat into mechanical force by its signature pop. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "The Future Is Robots Powered By Popcorn," 11 July 2018 But that too is characteristic of the general experience. Wendy Lesser, New York Times, "A Capital City, Still Haunted by Its Past," 26 Jan. 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

12 Oct 2018

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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