character

noun
char·​ac·​ter | \ ˈker-ik-tər How to pronounce character (audio) , ˈka-rik-\

Definition of character

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : one of the attributes (see attribute entry 1 sense 1) or features that make up and distinguish an individual This is a side of her character that few people have seen.
b(1) : a feature used to separate distinguishable things into categories also : a group or kind so separated advertising of a very primitive character
(2) : the aggregate of distinctive qualities characteristic of a breed, strain, or type a wine of great character
(3) : the detectable expression of the action of a gene or group of genes
c : the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person, group, or nation the character of the American people
d : main or essential nature especially as strongly marked and serving to distinguish excess sewage gradually changed the character of the lake
2a : one of the persons of a drama or novel
b : the personality or part which an actor recreates an actress who can create a character convincingly
c : characterization especially in drama or fiction a novelist good in both character and setting
d : person, individual a suspicious character
e : a person marked by notable or conspicuous traits quite a character
3 : moral excellence and firmness a man of sound character
4a : a graphic symbol (such as a hieroglyph or alphabet letter) used in writing or printing
b : a symbol (such as a letter or number) that represents information mathematical characters also : a representation of such a symbol that may be accepted by a computer
c : a magical or astrological emblem
d : alphabet
e(1) : writing, printing
(2) : style of writing or printing You know the character to be your brother's?— Shakespeare
(3) : cipher
f : a conventionalized graphic device placed on an object as an indication of ownership, origin, or relationship
5 : reputation the scandal has damaged his character and image
6 : position, capacity his character as a town official
8 : a short literary sketch of the qualities of a social type
in character
: in accord with a person's usual qualities or traits behaving in character
out of character
: not in accord with a person's usual qualities or traits his rudeness was completely out of character

character

adjective

Definition of character (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : capable of portraying an unusual or eccentric personality often markedly different from the player a character actor
2 : requiring or involving the portrayal of an unusual or eccentric personality a character role

character

verb
charactered; charactering; characters

Definition of character (Entry 3 of 3)

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Other Words from character

Noun

characterless \ ˈker-​ik-​tər-​ləs How to pronounce characterless (audio) , ˈka-​rik-​ \ adjective

Synonyms for character

Synonyms: Noun

glyph, icon (also ikon), sign, symbol

Synonyms: Verb

characterize, define, depict, describe, portray, represent

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Choose the Right Synonym for character

Noun

disposition, temperament, temper, character, personality mean the dominant quality or qualities distinguishing a person or group. disposition implies customary moods and attitude toward the life around one. a cheerful disposition temperament implies a pattern of innate characteristics associated with one's specific physical and nervous organization. an artistic temperament temper implies the qualities acquired through experience that determine how a person or group meets difficulties or handles situations. a resilient temper character applies to the aggregate of moral qualities by which a person is judged apart from intelligence, competence, or special talents. strength of character personality applies to an aggregate of qualities that distinguish one as a person. a somber personality

quality, property, character, attribute mean an intelligible feature by which a thing may be identified. quality is a general term applicable to any trait or characteristic whether individual or generic. material with a silky quality property implies a characteristic that belongs to a thing's essential nature and may be used to describe a type or species. the property of not conducting heat character applies to a peculiar and distinctive quality of a thing or a class. remarks of an unseemly character attribute implies a quality ascribed to a thing or a being. the attributes of a military hero

type, kind, sort, nature, description, character mean a number of individuals thought of as a group because of a common quality or qualities. type may suggest strong and clearly marked similarity throughout the items included so that each is typical of the group. one of three basic body types kind may suggest natural grouping. a zoo seemingly having animals of every kind sort often suggests some disparagement. the sort of newspaper dealing in sensational stories nature may imply inherent, essential resemblance rather than obvious or superficial likenesses. two problems of a similar nature description implies a group marked by agreement in all details belonging to a type as described or defined. not all acts of that description are actually illegal character implies a group marked by distinctive likenesses peculiar to the type. research on the subject so far has been of an elementary character

Traits of Character

Character demonstrates that a word may have many and varied meanings and yet still be easily understood by most listeners when used in disparate settings. We have little trouble distinguishing the meanings of the noun in “she had a fine and noble character,” “Bill is always joking; he’s such a character,” and “He was the last character to appear in the play,” not to mention its many other applications. Character comes ultimately from the Greek charaktēr (“mark, distinctive quality”), which passed through Latin and French before landing in English. The Greek noun itself is derived from the verb charassein, meaning “to sharpen, cut in furrows, or engrave.” The literal sense of the noun (“an engraved or imprinted mark”) existed in Greek, Latin, and French side by side with the figurative one (“a distinctive quality”), and both senses were borrowed into English early on, with a variant of the figurative sense appearing first.

Examples of character in a Sentence

Noun

… this makes everyone believe not only that anyone can be a parent, but also that everyone ought to do it, even those who seem by character or inclination to be ill equipped. — Anna Quindlen, Newsweek, 27 Apr. 2009 Someone with Alzheimer's may undergo a regression to a "second childhood," but aspects of one's essential character, of personality and personhood, of self, survive … — Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia, (2007) 2008 "Beat" is old carny slang. According to Beat Movement legend (and it is a movement with a deep inventory of legend), Ginsberg and Kerouac picked it up from a character named Herbert Huncke, a gay street hustler and drug addict from Chicago who began hanging around Times Square in 1939 … — Louis Menand, New Yorker, 1 Oct. 2007 Slowly, steadily, Och and Chris passed along their knowledge of the characterof various courses, and the way a race evolves tactically. — Lance Armstrong, It's Not About the Bike, (2000) 2001 Her character struck the Swede back then as a compound in which you'd find just about everything toxic to desperation and dread. At the core of her he could imagine a nucleus of confidence plaited just as neatly and tightly as her braided hair. — Philip Roth, American Pastoral, 1997 the unique character of the town The building is very simple in character. Their house has a lot of character.

Verb

formerly charactered as “the dark ages,” that period of history may not have been quite so benighted as once thought
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Steve Harvey fans know him as a lovable and hilarious character in front of the cameras and over the radio airwaves. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Steve Harvey and His Wife Marjorie Have Faced So Many Ups and Downs With Their Kids," 8 May 2019 As Lori put it once, our characters Abigail and Elizabeth are like 'soulmates'. Lindsey O'connell, Woman's Day, "Exclusive! Watch a Sneak Peek of Hallmark Channel’s 'When Calls The Heart'," 28 Feb. 2019 Lady Gaga has been teasing a new animated character on social media as part of her Las Vegas residency show. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "Lady Gaga teases an anime cyborg at her Las Vegas concert," 29 Dec. 2018 In Roll Player, which first appeared in 2016, players create a character for use in a role-playing game, complete with an alignment, a back story, and stats like Charisma and Strength. Nate Anderson, Ars Technica, "Eight great board games we played at PAX Unplugged," 8 Dec. 2018 The commemorative coins included in this year's purses celebrated Queen Victoria's 200th birthday, as well as one of the U.K.'s most enduring fictional characters, Sherlock Holmes. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "For a Joint Appearance with Queen Elizabeth, Princess Eugenie Rewears a Floral Erdem Dress," 18 Apr. 2019 She's worked on the character through its creation, a run in Washington, D.C., and now its New York debut. Nojan Aminosharei, Harper's BAZAAR, "Beetlejuice's Sophia Anne Caruso Is Bringing Goth to Broadway," 17 Apr. 2019 But, back to the show itself, the future of Lori's WCTH character, Abigail Stanton, remains up in the air. Blair Donovan, Country Living, "'When Calls the Heart' Star Erin Krakow Speaks Out Amid the Lori Loughlin Drama," 9 Apr. 2019 For one, popular characters Nell Jones (Renee Felice Smith) and Eric Beale (Barrett Foa) might be moving to San Francisco. Megan Stein, Country Living, "'NCIS: Los Angeles' Sparks Concern That the Show Might Be Ending," 14 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Character witnesses for Storm include a parade of foster puppies the Freeleys have taken in over the last month. Sarah Maslin Nir, New York Times, "Dog Praised as Hero for Saving Deer (Whether He Meant To or Not)," 18 July 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The similarities between Markle and Prince Harry and the Love Actually characters Sam and Joanna are eerie. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "7 Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Conspiracy Theories So Ridiculous You Have to Laugh," 18 July 2018 Unlike some other Victorian mystery series, this one hews less to period details and more to character development as Lenox unravels the mystery of the murder of a woman found in a trunk on an island along the Thames. Bethanne Patrick, The Seattle Times, "Six beach reads that bring more pleasure than guilt," 2 July 2018 But that might be because the pilot glosses over every aspect of the story, from art design to character development and plot construction. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "NBC’s new VR thriller Reverie is a schmaltzy take on techno-dystopia," 30 May 2018 That kind of explosiveness could make K-State a more formidable NCAA draw if Wade and Brown indeed are back, and the Wildcats also had to be encouraged by some solid performances off the bench and the testament to character that their rally was. Vahe Gregorian, kansascity, ""Grossed out:" Barry Brown's eye injury stifles K-State but bigger opportunity awaits | The Kansas City Star," 9 Mar. 2018 The story can't seem to decide which character to concentrate on, jumping from character arc to character arc like a hyperactive child and robbing any plot thread of any emotional heft. Patrick Cooley, cleveland.com, "'Pitch Perfect 3:' How to give an audience what it wants," 21 Dec. 2017 The main library downtown is asking fans to dress up as their favorite Doctor Who characters to parade through the building at 3:15 pm. Mike Danahey, Elgin Courier-News, "Elgin libraries host Doctor Who Day Saturday," 31 Aug. 2017 His commitment to character impressed the man himself. Jonas Shaffer, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles' Adam Jones is real star of the night at Baltimore's WWE Extreme Rules," 5 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'character.' 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 character

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4f

Adjective

1841, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for character

Noun, Adjective, and Verb

Middle English caracter, from Latin character mark, distinctive quality, from Greek charaktēr, from charassein to scratch, engrave; perhaps akin to Lithuanian žerti to scratch

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Statistics for character

Last Updated

16 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for character

The first known use of character was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for character

character

noun

English Language Learners Definition of character

: the way someone thinks, feels, and behaves : someone's personality
: a set of qualities that are shared by many people in a group, country, etc.
: a set of qualities that make a place or thing different from other places or things

character

noun
char·​ac·​ter | \ ˈker-ək-tər How to pronounce character (audio) \

Kids Definition of character

1 : a mark, sign, or symbol (as a letter or figure) used in writing or printing
2 : the group of qualities that make a person, group, or thing different from others The town has special character.
3 : a distinguishing feature : characteristic the plant's bushy character
4 : a person who says or does funny or unusual things Your friend is quite a character.
5 : a person in a story or play
6 : the usually good opinions that most people have about a particular person : reputation She made an attack on his character.
7 : moral excellence She is a person of character known for her honesty.

character

noun
char·​ac·​ter | \ ˈkar-ik-tər How to pronounce character (audio) \

Medical Definition of character

1 : one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish the individual
2 : the detectable expression of the action of a gene or group of genes
3 : the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person, group, or nation

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