verb (used with object),char·ac·ter·ized,char·ac·ter·iz·ing.
to mark or distinguish as a characteristic; be a characteristic of: Rich metaphors characterize his poetry.
to describe the character or individual quality of: He characterized her in a few well-chosen words.
to attribute character to: to characterize him as a coward.
Also especially British, char·ac·ter·ise.
Origin of characterize
1585–95; < Medieval Latincharactērizāre < Greekcharaktērízein. See character, -ize
Related formschar·ac·ter·iz·a·ble, adjectivechar·ac·ter·iz·er, nounmis·char·ac·ter·ize, verb (used with object),mis·char·ac·ter·ized,mis·char·ac·ter·iz·ing.non·char·ac·ter·ized, adjectivere·char·ac·ter·ize, verb (used with object),re·char·ac·ter·ized,re·char·ac·ter·iz·ing.un·char·ac·ter·ized, adjectivewell-char·ac·ter·ized, adjective
1590s, "to engrave, write," back-formation from characterization, or else from Medieval Latin characterizare, from Greek kharakterizein "to designate by a characteristic mark," from kharakter (see character). Meaning "to describe the qualities of" is recorded from 1630s; that of "to be characteristic" is from 1744. Related: Characterized; characterizing.