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 company characterized sales as strong compared with last year’s third quarter when shoppers stocked up on food and groceries ahead of Hurricane Florence that hit the Carolinas in September 2018. Stephen Singer,, "Stop & Shop parent company: Impact of April strike still stings as some customers who drifted to competitors stayed away," 6 Nov. 2019 On Wednesday, the former Auburn coach characterized the ex-attorney general as a creature of the swamp. Mike Cason |, al, "Former aide expects Sessions to run for his old Senate seat," 6 Nov. 2019 For example, Doreen Massey characterizes locations as hubs where various flows – social, cultural, economic – intersect and change over time. Jennifer M. Bernstein, The Conversation, "Why ‘acting locally’ is impossible in an interconnected world," 28 Oct. 2019 Martinez didn’t characterize the situation as a bullpen game. Peter Schmuck,, "Max Scherzer scratched from World Series start as Nationals take another body blow," 27 Oct. 2019 Dufty characterized these agreements as a win for all agencies involved. Rachel Swan,, "BART may offer perk at SF airport: Riders could jump ahead in security lines," 23 Oct. 2019 Four-flusher characterizes a poker player who pretends to hold a flush but in fact holds a worthless hand of only four same-suit cards. Richard Lederer, San Diego Union-Tribune, "The English language always has your number," 19 Oct. 2019 The report, which includes solar power expected to come online through the end of 2022, characterizes OUC as gaining notable momentum in Florida. Kevin Spear,, "Orlando utility to launch $9 million hydrogen system and more than double solar energy," 7 Oct. 2019 Petke also characterizes this language as a mutually agreed-upon modification to his employment contract. Michael Mccann,, "Mike Petke's Lawsuit vs. Real Salt Lake Reveals Details Behind His Firing," 19 Sep. 2019

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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Statistics for characterize

Last Updated

12 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for characterize

The first known use of characterize was circa 1602

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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

What made you want to look up characterize? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a calculated move

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