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 More broadly, policymakers in democratic countries must inspect rhetoric used to characterize and inform democratic AI strategy far more rigorously. Justin Sherman, Wired, 26 May 2021 Robert Lewandowski does not characterize it as thought. New York Times, 8 May 2021 The company did not characterize the job eliminations as layoffs, but officials with the SEIU-UHW union — which represents more than 58,000 Kaiser employees across the state — told The Chronicle that workers will be laid off. Lauren Hernández, San Francisco Chronicle, 30 Apr. 2021 The Virginia Attorney General’s Office confirmed a settlement, but did not characterize the deal or offer any other comment. Washington Post, 23 Apr. 2021 Swift will become the first female artist and the first non-English artist to receive the award, which the Brits characterize as their highest accolade. Paul Grein, Billboard, 9 May 2021 Rotjan had planned an exploratory expedition and invited Gauthier to collect and characterize deep-sea bacteria along the way. Stephanie Melchor, Scientific American, 29 Mar. 2021 The two sides couldn't even agree on how to characterize the exchanges. Fortune, 18 Mar. 2021 Feelings of exhaustion, distancing from family or fantasizing about escaping, all characterize this kind of burnout. Tracy Brower, Forbes, 8 May 2021

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

5 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Characterize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

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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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