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

During testimony delivered to a parliamentary committee, Gerald Butts said discussions former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has characterized as undue pressure were the usual thrust-and-parry of policy-making, directed at... Paul Vieira, WSJ, "Confidant of Embattled Trudeau Says Government Exerted No Undue Influence," 6 Mar. 2019 Apep's companion is far enough away that the pinwheel is largely shaped by the interactions of the winds coming off the two stars, so the researchers focused on characterizing those. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Scientists spot two massive stars creating a pinwheel of dust," 20 Nov. 2018 The residence was built in the popular Beaux-Arts style of France and is characterized by grandiose compositions and exuberant detail, according to the Filson Historical Quarterly. Taylor M. Riley, The Courier-Journal, "This mansion once housed Louisville’s most affluent family. Now, it’s home to history," 19 Apr. 2018 Gaga has been characterized as an underdog, a Hollywood newcomer, for her breakout role in A Star Is Born (despite being a global superstar and winning a Golden Globe for acting in 2015). Kyndall Cunningham, Glamour, "The Oscar Race Is All About Gaga vs. Glenn—But What About Women of Color?," 22 Jan. 2019 The conference styles itself as an alternative to a liberal culture of feminism that many Republicans characterize as oppressive. New York Times,, "Conservative women’s conference is a refuge for Trump’s fans," 17 June 2018 The challengers assert that since no amount will be assessed for going without insurance, the mandate can no longer be characterized as a tax, thereby eliminating its constitutional underpinning., "Why the latest GOP swipe at Obamacare is an assault on logic," 12 June 2018 History buffs will certainly find a feast for the mind in this town, characterized by its charm and Southern hospitality. Amy Aumick,, "Explore Florida's Madison County: A piece of World War II history," 7 May 2018 Also on view are Kusama's ravishing early abstractions on paper from the 1950s and '60s, characterized by deeply nuanced textures and abstract forms. Steven Litt,, "Kusama 'Infinity Mirrors' show in Toronto offers preview of what's coming to Cleveland (photos)," 6 May 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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Statistics for characterize

Last Updated

19 Mar 2019

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

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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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).


to corrupt or become corrupted

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