char·​ac·​ter·​ize | \ ˈker-ik-tə-ˌrīz How to pronounce characterize (audio) , ˈka-rik- \
characterized; characterizing

Definition of characterize

transitive verb

1 : to describe the character (see character entry 1 sense 1a) or quality of characterizes him as ambitious
2 : to be a characteristic of : distinguish an era characterized by greed

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Examples of characterize in a Sentence

How would you characterize the situation? I would characterize this as a positive change for our company. She had difficulty characterizing their relationship. His personality is hard to characterize. Farms and large flat fields characterize most of the area. the beliefs that characterized Europe in the 15th century
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Recent Examples on the Web In a video released Sunday, the Chaska Republican said the investigation related to his earlier criticism of the Minnesota Department of Health for following federal guidelines on when doctors should characterize deaths as due to COVID-19. USA TODAY, "Nail salons, strip club outbreak, Harvard from afar: News from around our 50 states," 8 July 2020 Gabay and her colleagues identified three main cognitive biases that characterize the tendency for interpersonal victimhood: interpretation, attribution and memory biases. Scott Barry Kaufman, Scientific American, "Unraveling the Mindset of Victimhood," 29 June 2020 Delightful flavors of raspberries, strawberries and wild herbs characterize this lovely wine from Oregon. Dave Mcintyre, Washington Post, "Summer sipping doesn’t get much better than these five wines under $20," 26 June 2020 In the report, Levin and her co-authors outline a need for much more research — not just on how mining would affect deep-sea environments but also to better characterize what those ecosystems look like and what species live in them. Abby Smith, Washington Examiner, "Scientists claim deep-sea mining could forever harm 'pristine' ocean ecosystems," 25 June 2020 Using its suite of scientific instruments, Perseverance will also study and characterize Mars' climate and geology. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "NASA's Perseverance rover will launch to Mars next month with a global tribute to health care workers," 20 June 2020 One team is analyzing text extracted from hundreds of thousands of news articles to better characterize the quality of the US media's pandemic coverage. Maimuna S. Majumder, Wired, "Coronavirus Researchers Are Dismantling Science’s Ivory Tower—One Study at a Time," 18 June 2020 Another possibility is that Type A blood is associated with small blood clots that characterize some severe COVID-19 cases. Anchorage Daily News, "The ultimate COVID-19 mystery: Why does it spare some and kill others?," 17 June 2020 In speeches and newsrooms and social media posts, people have had to make choices about how to characterize widespread, evolving unrest. Katy Steinmetz, Time, "'A War of Words.' Why Describing the George Floyd Protests As 'Riots' Is So Loaded," 8 June 2020

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

circa 1602, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for characterize

see character entry 1

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Time Traveler for characterize

Time Traveler

The first known use of characterize was circa 1602

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Statistics for characterize

Last Updated

10 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Characterize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for characterize


How to pronounce characterize (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of characterize

somewhat formal
: to describe the character or special qualities of (someone or something)
: to be a typical feature or quality of (someone or something)


char·​ac·​ter·​ize | \ ˈker-ək-tə-ˌrīz How to pronounce characterize (audio) \
characterized; characterizing

Kids Definition of characterize

1 : to describe the special qualities of I would characterize this as a positive change.
2 : to be a typical or distinguishing quality of Mystery and intrigue characterize this story.

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