characteristic

[kar-ik-tuh-ris-tik]

adjective

Also char·ac·ter·is·ti·cal. pertaining to, constituting, or indicating the character or peculiar quality of a person or thing; typical; distinctive: Red and gold are the characteristic colors of autumn.

noun

a distinguishing feature or quality: Generosity is his chief characteristic.
Mathematics.
  1. the integral part of a common logarithm.Compare mantissa.
  2. the exponent of 10 in a number expressed in scientific notation.
  3. the smallest positive integer n such that each element of a given ring added to itself n times results in 0.

Nearby words

  1. character type,
  2. character witness,
  3. characterful,
  4. characterisation,
  5. characterise,
  6. characteristic curve,
  7. characteristic equation,
  8. characteristic function,
  9. characteristic polynomial,
  10. characteristic root

Origin of characteristic

From the Greek word charaktēristikós, dating back to 1655–65. See character, -istic

Related forms
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for characteristic


British Dictionary definitions for characteristic

characteristic

noun

a distinguishing quality, attribute, or trait
maths
  1. the integral part of a common logarithm, indicating the order of magnitude of the associated numberthe characteristic of 2.4771 is 2 Compare mantissa
  2. another name for exponent, used esp in number representation in computing

adjective

indicative of a distinctive quality, etc; typical
Derived Formscharacteristically, adverb

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

Word Origin and History for characteristic

characteristic

adjective and noun both first attested 1660s, from character + -istic on model of Greek kharakteristikos. Earlier in the adjectival sense was characteristical (1620s). Related: Characteristically (1640s). Characteristics "distinctive traits" also attested from 1660s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for characteristic

characteristic

[kăr′ək-tə-rĭstĭk]

n.

A distinguishing feature or attribute; character.
A structure or function determined by a gene or genes; trait.
Related formschar′ac•ter•istic adj.


The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for characteristic

characteristic

[kăr′ək-tə-rĭstĭk]

The part of a logarithm to the base 10 that is to the left of the decimal point. For example, if 2.749 is a logarithm, 2 is the characteristic. Compare mantissa.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.