[ kar-ik-ter ]
See synonyms for: charactercharacterscharacterless on

  1. the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.

  2. one such feature or trait; characteristic.

  1. moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character.

  2. qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity: It takes character to face up to a bully.

  3. reputation: a stain on one's character.

  4. good repute.

  5. an account of the qualities or peculiarities of a person or thing.

  6. a person, especially with reference to behavior or personality: a suspicious character.

  7. Informal. an odd, eccentric, or unusual person.

  8. a person represented in a drama, story, etc.

  9. a part or role, as in a play or film.

  10. a symbol as used in a writing system, as a letter of the alphabet.

  11. the symbols of a writing system collectively.

  12. a significant visual mark or symbol.

  13. status or capacity: the character of a justice of the peace.

  14. a written statement from an employer concerning the qualities of a former employee.

  15. Literature. (especially in 17th- and 18th-century England) a formal character sketch or descriptive analysis of a particular human virtue or vice as represented in a person or type.: Compare character sketch.

  16. Genetics. any trait, function, structure, or substance of an organism resulting from the effect of one or more genes as modified by the environment.

  17. Computers.

    • any symbol, as a number, letter, punctuation mark, etc., that represents data and that, when encoded, is usable by a machine.

    • one of a set of basic symbols that singly or in a series of two or more represents data and, when encoded, is usable in a computer.

  18. a style of writing or printing.

  19. Roman Catholic Theology. the ineffaceable imprint received on the soul through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and ordination.

  20. (formerly) a cipher or cipher message.

  1. Theater.

    • (of a part or role) representing a personality type, especially by emphasizing distinctive traits, as language, mannerisms, physical makeup, etc.

    • (of an actor or actress) acting or specializing in such roles.

verb (used with object)Archaic.
  1. to portray; describe.

  2. to engrave; inscribe.

Idioms about character

  1. in character,

    • in harmony with one's personal character or disposition: Such behavior is not in character for him.

    • in accordance with the role or personality assumed in a performance: an actor in character.

  2. out of character,

    • out of harmony with one's personal character or disposition: Her remarks were out of character.

    • away from the role or personality assumed in a performance: The actor stepped out of character.

Origin of character

First recorded in 1275–1325; from Latin, from Greek charaktḗr “graving tool, mark from an engraving tool,” equivalent to charak- (base of charáttein “to engrave”) + -tēr, agent suffix

synonym study For character

1. Character, individuality, personality refer to the sum of the characteristics possessed by a person. Character refers especially to moral qualities, ethical standards, principles, and the like: a man of sterling character. Individuality refers to the distinctive qualities that make one recognizable as a person differentiated from others: a woman of strong individuality. Personality refers particularly to the combination of outer and inner characteristics that determine the impression that a person makes upon others: a child of vivid or pleasing personality. 5. See reputation.

Other words for character

Other words from character

  • char·ac·ter·less, adjective
  • un·char·ac·tered, adjective

Words Nearby character Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use character in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for character


/ (ˈkærɪktə) /

  1. the combination of traits and qualities distinguishing the individual nature of a person or thing

  2. one such distinguishing quality; characteristic

  1. moral force; integrity: a man of character

    • reputation, esp a good reputation

    • (as modifier): character assassination

  2. a summary or account of a person's qualities and achievements; testimonial: my last employer gave me a good character

  3. capacity, position, or status: he spoke in the character of a friend rather than a father

  4. a person represented in a play, film, story, etc; role

  5. an outstanding person: one of the great characters of the century

  6. informal an odd, eccentric, or unusual person: he's quite a character

  7. an informal word for person a shady character

  8. a symbol used in a writing system, such as a letter of the alphabet

  9. Also called: sort printing any single letter, numeral, punctuation mark, or symbol cast as a type

  10. computing any letter, numeral, etc, which is a unit of information and can be represented uniquely by a binary pattern

  11. a style of writing or printing

  12. genetics any structure, function, attribute, etc, in an organism, which may or may not be determined by a gene or group of genes

  13. a short prose sketch of a distinctive type of person, usually representing a vice or virtue

  14. in character typical of the apparent character of a person or thing

  15. out of character not typical of the apparent character of a person or thing

  1. to write, print, inscribe, or engrave

  2. rare to portray or represent

Origin of character

C14: from Latin: distinguishing mark, from Greek kharaktēr engraver's tool, from kharassein to engrave, stamp

Derived forms of character

  • characterful, adjective
  • characterless, adjective

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for character


[ kărək-tər ]

  1. Genetics A structure, function, or attribute determined by a gene or a group of genes.

  2. Computer Science A symbol, such as a letter, number, or punctuation mark, that occupies one byte of memory. See more at ASCII.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for character


A person in a literary work. For example, Ebenezer Scrooge is a character in A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with character


see in character; out of character.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.