char·​ac·​ter·​ize ˈker-ik-tə-ˌrīz How to pronounce characterize (audio)
characterized; characterizing

transitive verb

: to describe the character (see character entry 1 sense 1a) or quality of
characterizes him as ambitious
: 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 Clinically speaking the term psychosis refers to symptoms showing loss of capacity to assess reality and primarily characterized by hallucinations, delusions and disorganized thinking. Greg Licholai, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 In a media environment increasingly characterized by a cacophony of voices, the homogeneity of the single, clear voice on the radio imbues huge power—even if that power comes without any guarantee of objectivity. Adil Rashid, WIRED, 28 Nov. 2023 In the ’90s, the decade that saw the meteoric rise of the supermodel, the likes of Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, and Linda Evangelista established what would become textbook off-duty model style, characterized by a white T-shirt, straight-leg jeans, and combat boots. Alex Kessler, Glamour, 27 Nov. 2023 In an economy characterized by a volatile stock market and elevated inflation, a sure thing looks better than ever. Martha C. White, New York Times, 24 Nov. 2023 According to Kelly, the light-hearted Gemini is most compatible with Aries and Leo — two Fire signs characterized by passion and warmth. Nicole Briese, Peoplemag, 24 Nov. 2023 Metabolic disease — characterized by conditions such as diabetes and obesity that lessen patients’ bodies’ abilities to heal themselves — often leads to wounds that can create conflicts between families and patients. Julie Roskamp, STAT, 24 Nov. 2023 Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder characterized by the progressive loss of motor control. IEEE Spectrum, 19 Nov. 2023 These cases are usually characterized by abdominal swelling, severe pain, and persistent nausea. Paige Stables, Allure, 16 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'characterize.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see character entry 1

First Known Use

circa 1602, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of characterize was circa 1602

Dictionary Entries Near characterize

Cite this Entry

“Characterize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


char·​ac·​ter·​ize ˈkar-ik-tə-ˌrīz How to pronounce characterize (audio)
characterized; characterizing
: to point out the character of an individual or group : describe
characterize him as ambitious
: to be characteristic of
tragic endings characterized her stories

More from Merriam-Webster on characterize

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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