char·​ac·​ter·​i·​za·​tion | \ ˌker-ik-t(ə-)rə-ˈzā-shən How to pronounce characterization (audio) , ˌka-rik-\

Definition of characterization

: the act of characterizing especially : the artistic representation (as in fiction or drama) of human character or motives the author's characterization of the boy as someone who wanted to be accepted by others

Examples of characterization in a Sentence

The reporter was criticized for his characterization of the people of the town as poor and uneducated. News reporting requires accurate characterization. The class discussed the author's characterization of the boy as someone who wanted to be accepted by others. The story has good characterization.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Despite strong performances from all three actors, the banality of the premise, the sketchiness of the characterizations, and the predictability of the resolution detract from the impact of what should be a heart-pounding thriller. Judy Berman, Time, "Black Mirror Used to Be a Terrifying Vision of the Future. Season 5 Is Just Silly," 5 June 2019 The Spore drive, much like poor characterization, is one of the lingering curses from Season One. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "'Star Trek: Discovery' Gets Back to Basics," 25 Jan. 2019 Sawant’s characterization of the contract, but would not elaborate. Heidi Groover, The Seattle Times, "With contract talks still stalled, Seattle EMTs set strike deadline of Dec. 21," 11 Dec. 2018 In some ways, Green Book feels too old-fashioned, with blithe characterizations that seem ripped from an earlier era of filmmaking. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "8 movies out this month that are looking for Oscar season glory," 1 Nov. 2018 The first goal is to enhance Near-Earth Object (NEO) detection, tracking, and characterization capabilities, in order to increase the response time the U.S. (and all of Earth, really) would have if something came our way through space. John Patrick Pullen, Fortune, "Here's How NASA Plans to Protect Earth From Giant Asteroids Hurtling Through Space," 21 June 2018 The stops were conducted despite the State Department’s characterization of Yemen in 2000 as a haven for terrorists. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Militant Killed in U.S. Airstrike Was Wanted for USS Cole Bombing," 4 Jan. 2019 But police in Mountain View, California, where Aghdam was found early Tuesday hours before the attack dispute the family's characterization of phone calls with authorities. Dakin Andone, CNN, "YouTube shooter's family expresses 'shock,' but says police warned before attack," 5 Apr. 2018 In his statement to the judge, Chaney disputed his attorney's characterization of him having low mental abilities, and accused him of providing poor counsel at trial. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee mother gives powerful statement of pain and redemption at sentencing of son's killer," 12 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'characterization.' 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 characterization

1841, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for characterization

see character entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about characterization

Statistics for characterization

Last Updated

10 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for characterization

The first known use of characterization was in 1841

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for characterization



English Language Learners Definition of characterization

somewhat formal : the act of describing the character or qualities of someone or something
: the way a writer makes a person in a story, book, play, movie, or television show seem like a real person

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on characterization

What made you want to look up characterization? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


behavior toward others

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!