noun char·ac·ter \ˈker-ik-tər, ˈka-rik-\

: 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

Full Definition of CHARACTER

a :  a conventionalized graphic device placed on an object as an indication of ownership, origin, or relationship
b :  a graphic symbol (as a hieroglyph or alphabet letter) used in writing or printing
c :  a magical or astrological emblem
d :  alphabet
e (1) :  writing, printing
(2) :  style of writing or printing (3) :  cipher
f :  a symbol (as a letter or number) that represents information; also :  a representation of such a symbol that may be accepted by a computer
a :  one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual
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 detectable expression of the action of a gene or group of genes (3) :  the aggregate of distinctive qualities characteristic of a breed, strain, or type <a wine of great character>
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>
:  position, capacity <his character as a town official>
:  reference 4b
:  reputation <the scandal has damaged his character and image>
:  moral excellence and firmness <a man of sound character>
a :  a person marked by notable or conspicuous traits <quite a character>
b :  one of the persons of a drama or novel
c :  the personality or part which an actor recreates <an actress who can create a character convincingly>
d :  characterization especially in drama or fiction
e :  person, individual <a suspicious character>
:  a short literary sketch of the qualities of a social type
char·ac·ter·less \-ləs\ adjective
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>

Examples of CHARACTER

  1. … 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


Middle English caracter, from Latin character mark, distinctive quality, from Greek charaktēr, from charassein to scratch, engrave; perhaps akin to Lithuanian žerti to scratch
First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of CHARACTER

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>.

Other Psychology Terms

fetish, hypochondria, intelligence, mania, narcissism, neurosis, pathological, psychosis, schadenfreude, subliminal


verb char·ac·ter \ˈker-ik-tər, ˈka-rik-\

Definition of CHARACTER

transitive verb
archaic :  engrave, inscribe
a archaic :  represent, portray
b :  characterize


(see 1character)
First Known Use: 1591


adjective char·ac·ter \ˈker-ik-tər, ˈka-rik-\

Definition of CHARACTER

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


(see 1character)
First Known Use: 1883

Other Performing Arts Terms

diva, dramaturgy, loge, prestidigitation, proscenium, supernumerary, zany
CHARACTER Defined for Kids


noun char·ac·ter \ˈker-ək-tər\

Definition of CHARACTER for Kids

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


noun char·ac·ter \ˈkar-ik-tər\

Medical Definition of CHARACTER

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