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 The exchange caused a ruckus at CNN as multiple anchors weighed in to defend Raju and slam McSally, characterizing her comments as an unfair attack on the press. Tim Pearce, Washington Examiner, "Ted Cruz slams 'liberal hacks' at CNN over Martha McSally backlash," 17 Jan. 2020 During concluding remarks Thursday, some members characterized the policy strategies as progressive, while others said the recommendations don't go far enough and that there’s still much more work to be done. Angie Jackson, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan jail reform ideas in works for months get key approval," 9 Jan. 2020 The field of exoplanets is now in a transitional era from discovering them to characterizing their atmospheres. Ravi Kumar Kopparapu, The Conversation, "An Earth-sized planet found in the habitable zone of a nearby star," 7 Jan. 2020 Of the four basic tastes on the human palate, the one that best characterizes the year 2019 in architecture and planning in Cleveland would be sour, although the year certainly had its sweet moments, too. Steven Litt, cleveland, "From Hyperloop to Top of the Hill, sifting the sweet & sour in 2019 architecture and planning: Steven Litt," 5 Jan. 2020 Kyl and a top aide to Ducey confirmed the meetings occurred, although neither would characterize the nature of the conversations. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, azcentral, "Potential McSally primary challenger decides against 2020 Senate race," 2 Jan. 2020 Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher, a U.S. Navy SEAL who was supported by President Donald Trump after being acquitted in a murder case characterized as a war crime, is rebranding himself as a conservative influencer with an eye for macho fashion. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Eddie Gallagher, Acquitted of War Crimes and Supported by Donald Trump, Has Started a Lifestyle Clothing Line," 2 Jan. 2020 Just a decade ago, scientists would have only dreamed of snapping a picture of a black hole or characterizing, in exquisite detail, the climatic conditions present on exoplanets orbiting faraway stars. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "The Deep Space Decade: How a New Era of Exploration Came of Age in the 2010s," 31 Dec. 2019 Meanwhile, O'Brien characterized wide receiver Will Fuller's status as undetermined after being limited all week with a groin injury. Aaron Wilson, Houston Chronicle, "Texans' Bill O'Brien on J.J. Watt: 'He's playing'; Will Fuller a game-time decision," 2 Jan. 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

22 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Characterize.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 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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Comments on characterize

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