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

Example Sentences

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 Prevention, a centerpiece of the best medical care, should likewise characterize the approach to administrative harm in health care. Walter J. O’donnell, STAT, 28 Nov. 2022 Interviews with 18 of Telles’ former colleagues and classmates, along with documents obtained by the Review-Journal, characterize a man desperate to protect his public persona. oregonlive, 25 Nov. 2022 Please don’t characterize the strength Pelosi continued to bring in taking on Trump. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, 17 Nov. 2022 Thibodeau wouldn’t characterize Grimes’ latest update as a setback, but suggested the 22-year-old is still feeling soreness in his left foot. Stefan Bondy, Hartford Courant, 17 Oct. 2022 To characterize a virus’s risk based on its genome? Matthew Hutson, The New Yorker, 2 Sep. 2022 In handing down an 87-month sentence to Guy Wesley Reffitt, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich declined to characterize the defendant as a domestic terrorist, as prosecutors had requested. Lucien Bruggeman, ABC News, 2 Aug. 2022 Pedro Castillo’s early popularity is in shambles, decimated by what critics characterize as a chaotic management style and corruption allegations. Laura Blasey, Los Angeles Times, 27 July 2022 Beauty, status, wealth and gender norms all become scrambled in Östlund’s critique of the unspeakable disparities that characterize life in the neoliberal order, and the equally obscene apathy that unearned privilege affords. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, 12 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

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 6 Dec. 2022.

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

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