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

That's because facials have typically been characterized by a variety of products grazing over and sinking into skin. Rebecca Norris, Allure, "I Got a Cryotherapy Facial and It Literally Froze My Face Off — Well, Not Literally," 25 June 2018 Her enemies called her a communist; her father and brothers characterized her as abnormal, eccentric, and perhaps even mentally unstable. Longreads, "Nell Battle Lewis, Storyteller for Jim Crow," 25 May 2018 The pair has collaborated on five songs, and have had what can only really be characterized as a long and confusing history. Zoë Weiner, Teen Vogue, "She and Drake aren't friends anymore.," 3 May 2018 In each nomination, she was characterized as a nurse any hospital, physician, fellow nurse and patient would want at the bedside. Alice Adams, Houston Chronicle, "Houston Chronicle recognizes Top 15 Nurses for excellence, dedication," 2 May 2018 During the labor movement’s years of decline, many came to see unions as a vestigial social organ, characterized by a stubbornly narrow focus on raising its members’ wages. Livia Gershon, Longreads, "Nurses, Unite!," 28 June 2018 At the other extreme, Kim characterized the bill as a neighborhood-destroying giveaway to developers. J.k. Dineen, San Francisco Chronicle, "Housing a defining issue in SF mayor’s race," 2 June 2018 In 1967 British biologist and Nobel laureate Sir Peter Medawar famously characterized science as, in book title form, The Art of the Soluble. Michael Shermer, Scientific American, "Will Science Ever Solve the Mysteries of Consciousness, Free Will and God?," 13 July 2018 With a mass spectrometer, such a spacecraft could better characterize the composition of the icy particles, and a very capable microscope might be able to detect organisms. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Senior scientist argues that we should bypass Europa for Enceladus," 5 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

15 Oct 2018

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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).


a state of commotion or excitement

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