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

Only that one of its most remarkable characteristics is this odd combination, quite rare and, in its way, admirable. Steve King, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why We Keep Going Back to Amsterdam," 24 Dec. 2018 According to Ayurveda, every individual is born with one predominant dosha due to their psychological and physiological characteristics, which are considered inextricably linked. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "From CBD to Sex-Positivity, the 8 Biggest Wellness Trends of 2018," 10 Dec. 2018 Like last year, the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro are not clones of each other, and each has its own defining characteristics. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "Huawei Mate 20 Mate 20 Pro hands on: Enter the Matrix with the do-it-all Android phones," 16 Oct. 2018 Every flying machine has its own unique characteristics, some good, some not so good. Jennifer Bogo, Popular Mechanics, "The Oral History of Apollo 11," 17 July 2018 While there are several defining characteristics of Colonial architecture, there are some regional nuances; a result of the settlers in the area and the available materials at the time. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Here’s Why Colonial-Style Homes Reign Supreme," 2 May 2019 Overrun—basically the amount of air that's beaten into ice cream or frozen custard—is another defining characteristic, and the two are prepared using different methods. Katie Bowlby, Country Living, "What's the Difference Between Custard and Ice Cream?," 25 Apr. 2019 Along with adding bad guys, Marvel also suggested that G.I. Joe become the name of the unit, and that the unit comprise specialists, each with their own names and characteristics, which Hama provided. Maude Campbell, Popular Mechanics, "Yo, Joe: How a 12-Inch Soldier Doll Became a Toy Legend," 9 Apr. 2019 All key characteristics in a state that has the second-highest Mormon population outside Utah. Washington Post, "Breakout Idaho gubernatorial candidate faces uphill race," 7 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

When the characteristic energy of an isotope hits that crystal, it is absorbed and re-emitted as light particles, which are converted into an electrical signal that the D3S reads. Dan Dubno, Popular Mechanics, "This Tiny Device Can Detect Nuclear Armageddon," 25 Apr. 2019 The show focuses on the later decades of the French artist’s long career, from the emergence of his characteristic style around 1912 until his death. Susan Delson, WSJ, "An Artist of Time and Space," 4 Jan. 2019 When Pep Guardiola arrived before the beginning of last season, plenty of pundits and opinionists cast a cloud of doubt over his ability to succeed in the Premier League given his characteristic style. Juan Pimiento, chicagotribune.com, "Manchester City clinch, Zlatan hits Chicago and the best of the soccer weekend," 15 Apr. 2018 The characteristic pattern of pain began to emerge, and Segerdahl recited the names of the active regions like old friends. Nicola Twilley, The New Yorker, "The Neuroscience of Pain," 9 May 2016 With a scarlet scarf knotted around her neck, Goodman greeted each of her guests, whether an old friend or an eager fan, with characteristic warmth and ease. Ian Malone, Vogue, "A Vogue-heavy Crowd Came Out to Tonne Goodman’s Point of View Book Party at Bookmarc," 17 Apr. 2019 Meanwhile, the two daughters have their own anguish to deal with, all pricked out by Ms. Hadley with her characteristic acuity. Katherine A. Powers, WSJ, "‘Late in the Day’ Review: And Then They Were Three," 11 Jan. 2019 Most are variations on services already available from other media, technology or financial companies, although Apple’s versions have been infused with a bit of the iPhone maker’s characteristic branding shine. ... Dan Gallagher, WSJ, "Apple’s Hardest Upsell Yet," 25 Mar. 2019 As guests walked into the venue, a blue stairway (the characteristic color of Barilla) welcomed them, showing the way to the dance floor, where DJ James Righton—who also happens to be Keira Knightley’s husband—was already giving rhythm to the night. Giacomo Minazzi, Vogue, "Pass the Pasta! Italian Vogue and Barilla Host a Spaghetti Disco," 24 Feb. 2019

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

8 Jun 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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