char·​ac·​ter·​ize | \ˈker-ik-tə-ˌrīz, 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

Tear gas is characterized as a chemical warfare agent, according to the Geneva Convention; these are gases that specifically activate pain-sensing nerves, according to National Geographic. Christianna Silva, Teen Vogue, "U.S. Border Patrol Agents Used Tear Gas to Disperse Hundreds of People in the Migrant Caravan," 26 Nov. 2018 There’s a slight difference when going from wired to wireless, but in general the 4.40 BT is characterized by a forward bass (particularly mid-bass), a relatively wide soundstage for the price, and a consistent smoothness across the mids and treble. Jeff Dunn, Ars Technica, "The Ars Technica Back to School buying guide," 13 Aug. 2018 McKinsey Global Institute: Online survey of 1,804 in which researchers identify respondents whose work is characterized by independence regardless of formal arrangement. Rani Molla, Recode, "The U.S. government doesn’t know how big the gig economy is," 24 July 2018 The study examined drugs that list possible adverse side effects including depression and suicide, but that does not mean the link was always well-characterized — or that people should stop taking a drug that could be helping them. Carolyn Y. Johnson, Anchorage Daily News, "More than a third of American adults take prescription drugs that may increase risk of depression, study says," 13 June 2018 LandSpace was founded in 2015, and was characterized as the most advanced player in China’s private space industry. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "China’s first attempt to reach orbit with a private space company failed," 28 Oct. 2018 Sitting down for a summit with Moon, and then Trump, will be characterized as a victory back home that neither his father nor grandfather was able to achieve. Katie Hunt, CNN, "Kim Jong Un to cross line at DMZ: Here's what will happen," 26 Apr. 2018 The state high court in May decided on procedural grounds that the execution could go forward but did not review the three-drug protocol that death penalty experts have characterized as experimental and risky. Ken Ritter, Time, "A Drug Company Is Suing to Stop Its Drug From Being Used in a Nevada Execution," 11 July 2018 Her parents were both Hoosier-born as well and embodied the Irish and German strains which characterized their home town., "Deaths in South Florida: 7/14," 14 July 2018

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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Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for characterize

The first known use of characterize was circa 1602

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More Definitions for characterize



English Language Learners Definition of characterize

: 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 \
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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Comments on characterize

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


living or existing for a long time

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