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 characteristic (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 Adding to that feel is a defining characteristic of industrial design—large, steel windows. Hadley Mendelsohn, House Beautiful, "Everything You Need to Know About Industrial Design," 26 Mar. 2021 That quest for depth has been a defining characteristic of the past year, with global shutdowns forcing the entire world to look inward. Jeff Ihaza, Rolling Stone, "Erika de Casier Makes Sensitive R&B For Club Kids," 18 Mar. 2021 Empowerment is the distinguishing characteristic of the indirect relationship between an influencer and follower that is free from the pressures of the direct power relationship. Brad Cousins, Forbes, "If You Can’t Inspire Them, Make Them Afraid? Instead, Go Beyond Leadership," 9 Mar. 2021 Join Chef Adrienne Cheatham for a deep dive into the different characteristic and properties of waxy, mealy, and all-purpose potatoes on cleveland.com’s sister site, Epicurious. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, "Sign-ups open today for Ohio’s first mass vaccination center: The Wake Up for Thursday, March 11, 2021," 11 Mar. 2021 The bravery shown by Tesco grocery stores’ former CEO Dave Lewis — who reduced inventory by 30% to compete with Aldi — offers a real-world example of this characteristic. Lisa Bodell, Forbes, "Simplifiers Possess These 6 Traits. How Many Do You Have?," 28 Feb. 2021 But Deneen is wrong to imply that the movie endorses this characteristic. Jack Butler, National Review, "It’s Still a Wonderful Movie," 25 Dec. 2020 This is the defining characteristic of a modern village. Rajshree Agarwal, Forbes, "How And Why To Mentor In Your Chosen Village," 25 Feb. 2021 But there is a third one, characteristic of many, if not all, autocracies: indifference. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "The Overlooked Hallmark of the Trump Administration—and Other Autocracies," 15 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Hinoki cypress is in the genus Chamaecyparis and the appearance of these male flowers are characteristic of the genus. oregonlive, "Ask an expert: Brown tips on this healthy cypress tree are male pollen-bearing flowers," 28 Mar. 2021 The survey uncovered more than 15,000 artifacts that are characteristic of the Early and Middle Paleo-Indian periods. courant.com, "Community News For The Farmington Valley Edition," 26 Mar. 2021 In the 1970s, Segal was among Hollywood’s busiest and most recognizable actors, appearing in films whose comedy and outlook, sometimes strikingly out of whack with today’s sensibility, were characteristic of the decade. BostonGlobe.com, "George Segal, durable veteran of drama and TV comedy, dies at 87," 24 Mar. 2021 Sometimes, identifying a new variant by its characteristic mutation can be enough, especially when the mutations gain whimsical names. New York Times, "Why Virus Variants Have Such Weird Names," 2 Mar. 2021 Every individual linked to the conference whose genome was sequenced - 28 people in total - carried the conference's characteristic mutation. Author: Sarah Kaplan, Chris Mooney, Anchorage Daily News, "Genetic analysis shows how a single ‘superspreading’ event sent coronavirus across the nation," 25 Aug. 2020 The colors of the bracelet range from subtle green to vivid green, which the auction house says is characteristic of the finest green jadeite-jade from Burma (Myanmar). Anthony Demarco, Forbes, "Cartier Diamond Bracelet Could Fetch $8.4 Million At Sotheby’s Hong Kong Sale," 17 Mar. 2021 The men in black’s uniformed response mirrors call-and-response interactions that are characteristic of Black fraternities; Jordan became a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity at USC in the '80s. Ariana Brockington, refinery29.com, "The Masked Singer Robopine Is A Tough One — Here’s Who Might Be Messing With The Panel," 10 Mar. 2021 That characteristic protein is what the virus uses to enter and infect human cells. Claire Maldarelli, Popular Science, "The FDA just authorized Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine," 27 Feb. 2021

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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Time Traveler for characteristic

Time Traveler

The first known use of characteristic was in 1646

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Statistics for characteristic

Last Updated

3 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Characteristic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/characteristic. Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

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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 characteristic (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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