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

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web The bigger surprise was this new song’s sound: a beat not built on the woozy, asymmetrical rhythms that characterize much of modern hip-hop and R&B, but rather upon the sort of steady thump that has kept dance floors bustling for decades now. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 28 July 2022 This is an extremely offbeat way to characterize driving a multi-ton vehicle that is able to move at tremendous speeds and convey enormous physical forces. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 8 Sep. 2021 Insane is the only way to characterize the riot that ensued after Dahl blew up disco records in center field at Comiskey Park. Rob Tannenbaum, Los Angeles Times, 10 Dec. 2020 So a lot of the paper's discussion involves describing the team's efforts to find a way to characterize their record-setting material. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 14 Oct. 2020 The performance is effortlessly warm and funny, an embodiment of the independent-mindedness and humility that characterize the best of us. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 11 July 2022 Though those add-ins may include dairy, shakes — short for milkshakes — usually are dairy-based, include ice cream and do not, by definition, include the fruit and vegetables that characterize smoothies. Los Angeles Times, 10 July 2022 In the decades before, this neighborhood was a crucial site of interracial exchange and invention, a nursery not just for tap dance but for American theatrical dance in general — the kind that would long characterize Broadway musicals. New York Times, 8 June 2022 City officials characterize San Diego’s new street vendor law as the right balance between fostering vendors as a new class of entrepreneurs and preventing them from damaging the character of parks, beach areas and business districts. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 June 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near characterize



character loan

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Statistics for characterize

Last Updated

4 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Characterize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for characterize


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on characterize

Nglish: Translation of characterize for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of characterize for Arabic Speakers


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