Definition of character in English:



  • 1The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.

    ‘running away was not in keeping with her character’
    • ‘I'm fascinated by this character trait known as charm or charisma.’
    • ‘Another unusual aspect of Fred's character is his ability to pick and nurture people.’
    • ‘Kibbutz mothers who hoped to treat everyone the same thus also wanted to express their individual characters by molding their own kids.’
    • ‘Humans vary in strength, intelligence, character, abilities, and a thousand other things.’
    • ‘One of the things that is crucial to the resolution of a dispute is the character and quality of the person who is line managing; that is obvious, is it not?’
    • ‘In many tribal cultures, those born with strange and unusual character traits were held in awe.’
    • ‘She says that the character of an individual can be assessed by the handwriting.’
    • ‘Tutors could tailor their instructions to the individual characters and capabilities of students, as well as providing moral guidance.’
    • ‘If I had to name the most unpleasant aspect of my character, the thing I dislike about myself the most, I'd say jealousy.’
    • ‘You would like to demonstrate the unique quality of your character to all and sundry.’
    • ‘That speaks volumes about his independent character and nature and also remarkable skill set.’
    • ‘Some of us must face moments in our lives that will define not only our character but also our moral fiber.’
    • ‘How a crime impacts on a family member depends on specific circumstances, on different individuals' personalities and characters.’
    • ‘These are traits of character that express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii's people.’
    • ‘Writing reflects the character of a person like nothing else.’
    • ‘He has qualities of character rare in politics at the top, and hardly manifest in the president himself.’
    • ‘Such a limitation requires a strong breed of man, however, with a quality of character and nobility of soul.’
    • ‘Does that say something about the character of the individuals involved?’
    • ‘It was not about you, your character, your mental stability, or the quality of your essay.’
    • ‘So, she found herself curious as to his reactions to this particular aspect of her character.’
    personality, nature, disposition, temperament, temper, mentality, turn of mind, psychology, psyche, constitution, make-up, make, stamp, mould, cast
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    1. 1.1 The distinctive nature of something.
      ‘gas lamps give the area its character’
      • ‘It seems that identity is the crucial point of nicknames as it gives clubs an individual character which words such as Wanderers, United and City do not.’
      • ‘They cared very much about the character of individual varieties.’
      • ‘The developers argue that this, along with more variety in the roofline, will lesson its impact on and respect the character of the surrounding area.’
      • ‘The development will be in keeping with the character of this conservation area.’
      • ‘The sandstone is widely used in buildings and walls in the area, giving it a distinctive character.’
      • ‘Under the legislation, a local authority may include plans to preserve the character of the areas to ensure their preservation.’
      • ‘Less problematic is the multidisciplinary character of Peoples of a Spacious Land.’
      • ‘The association works to preserve the rural character of the area east of the Sammamish Valley.’
      • ‘Obviously the court must recognise and pay regard to the character and nature of the business in question.’
      • ‘However, any development must be sensitive to the character of the surrounding area and not lead to excessive parking or traffic pressures.’
      • ‘Officers, however, are recommending the scheme because it is considered to have a minimal impact on the rural character of the area.’
      • ‘But a spokesman for the authority said officers believed the revised scheme would not compromise the character of any extended area.’
      • ‘But with their multitude of uses they were what gave the area its character.’
      • ‘Specific yeasts for the style of beers being brewed are used, thus producing brews with their own individual characters.’
      • ‘The Borries and Allisons are helping to preserve the unique character and flavour of individual apples from the region.’
      • ‘Hopefully your personality will fit well with the character and nature of your team.’
      • ‘Some villagers also claim that a temporary classroom in such a prominent location would destroy the character of the area.’
      • ‘In future, house builders will have to work much more closely with planners to make sure anything they construct will fit in with the character of the area.’
      • ‘The area had its own character, and you could smell the atmosphere of old Milano, the Milano of Giuseppe Verdi.’
      • ‘Residents were notified of the scheme late last week and claim it will completely change the character of the area.’
      personality, nature, disposition, temperament, temper, mentality, turn of mind, psychology, psyche, constitution, make-up, make, stamp, mould, cast
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    2. 1.2mass noun The quality of being individual in an interesting or unusual way.
      ‘the island is full of character’
      • ‘Many bed and breakfasts have individual charm and character, often in the spirit of the locale.’
      • ‘It's full of character and charm, spilling down a hill and looking over treetops.’
      • ‘Its small knots and colour variations can make for a lively, interesting floor that is full of character.’
      • ‘Westport is the tidiest town in Ireland, a place full of character and colour, where tidiness and beauty are the norm, or so it seems.’
      • ‘Even if a lot of the original furniture was replaced, Fowler keeps the principle that every room has its own individual character.’
      • ‘Both were unusually large, full of character, and hollow, which meant you could walk around inside them.’
      • ‘It is open plan, though has plenty of character and original features, such as the sea and sky.’
      • ‘Full of character, romance and charm, these suites are extremely comfortable and make the perfect weekend hideaway.’
      • ‘This is a charming home with lots of character and an interesting history.’
    3. 1.3mass noun Strength and originality in a person's nature.
      ‘she had character as well as beauty’
      • ‘He showed incredible strength of character under the most extreme circumstances.’
      • ‘Many apparently well-balanced people have no strength of character.’
      • ‘I liked the way he maintained my gaze; he certainly has strength of character.’
      • ‘Jonathan was a man of great courage and strength of character; he was a fighter.’
      • ‘Let's pray my husband has the same courage and strength of character.’
      • ‘People are going to be amazed at her strength of character and her intellect.’
      • ‘Friends yesterday spoke of his strength of character, which he had shown after a previous incident in which he was robbed by a young woman at his house.’
      • ‘The man has no strength of character and is so oblivious to his own weakness that he doesn't even register how weak he sounds.’
      • ‘She said Clive was always very determined and had great strength of character.’
      • ‘Both were teenagers on the other side of the globe from their families, yet both had the strength of character to survive and flourish.’
      • ‘As a value, they saw strength of character as far more important than success.’
      • ‘And to put yourself under that kind of pressure, you need a certain strength of character, so I have respect for footballers.’
      • ‘He possessed an excellent character, charming manners and was highly cultured.’
      • ‘But only a month later, she was miraculously let out of hospital, a feat which doctors put down to her strength of character and will to recover.’
      • ‘Their courage and strength of character is an inspiration to the rest of us.’
      • ‘She was a bright, bubbly individual, full of character.’
      • ‘The lady has a presence about her - optimism and strength of character - that shines through her eyes.’
      • ‘Her strength of character helped her overcome all her problems and she showed an amazing amount of courage.’
      • ‘The disease has now spread to her lungs, and she is in more pain, but her remarkable strength of character still shines through.’
      • ‘He had high standards, true character and integrity; he would not tolerate a lie.’
      integrity, honour, moral strength, moral fibre, rectitude, uprightness
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    4. 1.4 A person's good reputation.
      ‘to what do I owe this attack on my character?’
      • ‘The right is spending time and effort attacking the character of a man responsible for the nation's security.’
      • ‘As well as being a benefit game for a veteran football player, a testimonial can be a formal statement certifying good character.’
      • ‘He has lost his business, his reputation, his good character, his savings and his career.’
      • ‘I am deeply disappointed to see him sullying his good name with this attack on my character and my work.’
      • ‘The court was told that Liversage, who was described as being of previous good character, was originally charged with assault by beating.’
      reputation, name, good name, standing, stature, position, status, image, credibility, acceptability, prestige, cachet, kudos, eminence
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    5. 1.5dated A written statement of someone's good qualities; a testimonial.
      ‘you are dismissed without a character’
      • ‘Around 70 more residents wrote individual testimonials and character references.’
      • ‘She dismissed her on the spot, with the full amount of her wages, indeed, but with the conscientious conviction that she could not give her a character for honesty.’
      • ‘Time and again she finds a resonance between her own experiences and Annie's, who, dismissed without a character, is forced into prostitution.’
      reference, character reference, recommendation, letter of recommendation, commendation, endorsement, certificate of competence
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  • 2A person in a novel, play, or film.

    ‘the author's compassionate identification with his characters’
    • ‘From the beginning of his career Shakespeare made use of low-life characters as moral commentators.’
    • ‘The other obvious question: Will there be a third film with these characters?’
    • ‘The ultimate climax of the play was the evolution of each individual character.’
    • ‘In contrast Austen portrays central characters who have mistaken first impressions about others.’
    • ‘Each character has an interesting back story which explains how they got to be on the plane.’
    • ‘Wilde's unprecedented response was to attempt to curb novelists introducing fictional characters who spoke like him.’
    • ‘Hinton usually writes her stories in the first person, to reinforce the strong individual identities of her characters.’
    • ‘And I remember thinking that Lenny was a really interesting character.’
    • ‘The play's more engaging theme is found in the moral struggle the characters encounter as they wrestle with the notion of integrity in the face of their grasping egos.’
    • ‘It's really hard to make a character so devoid of morals so watchable and likable.’
    • ‘I'm sure that like me you will leave the cinema pondering the moral dilemmas the characters face and wondering how you would act facing such situations.’
    • ‘How many times have you read a book and later had your mental images of the characters spoilt when you've seen a screen version where the casting doesn't match your ideas?’
    • ‘The theme of the film involves the central characters encountering new situations while running away from the problems of adulthood.’
    • ‘The characters in both the novel and film are very two-dimensional topped off by a smug happy ending which feels empty.’
    • ‘The main characters of this film were all people who actually existed in history.’
    • ‘Male novelists are often accused of writing unconvincing female characters, but this novel has to create a strong protagonist in Tara Mullray.’
    • ‘Many of the strongest, most memorable characters in the novels are women.’
    • ‘The production team managed to simplify the complicated relationships between the multitude of characters appearing in the novel.’
    • ‘During the discussion everyone agreed it was not a great film, the characters were wooden and that it would have very little influence on inter-faith understanding.’
    • ‘Hollywood will be required to cast English actors to play English characters.’
    persona, person, role, part
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    1. 2.1 A part played by an actor.
      ‘the actor's TV character is often on the wrong side of the law’
      • ‘Spacek uses the mental limitations of her character as a springboard for her performance.’
      • ‘The actors have their characters down from the opening scene of the first show.’
      • ‘Nonetheless, all actors portray their characters so well that they don't fail to evoke hilarious laughter and empathy overall.’
      • ‘Where many actors hide behind their characters, you do seem to delight in revealing yourself.’
      • ‘The line between Allen's own personality and his screen characters is distinctly blurred here, a trait of many of his subsequent movies.’
      • ‘What is interesting about my character Dominic is that he's the same person at the end of the film as he is at the beginning.’
      • ‘He appears to have resolved these anxieties by stressing the moral gulf between his characters and his own beliefs.’
      • ‘She even divulged details of the plot from the three as-yet-unpublished Harry Potter books, to help the actors understand their characters.’
      • ‘I have no interest in watching an actor talk about his character in a movie.’
      • ‘The actors transformed into their characters.’
      • ‘The emotional commitment of all the actors to their characters is outstanding.’
      • ‘Depp also appreciated the mischievous nature and never-say-die attitude of his character.’
      • ‘All of the actors except the main character Frank are nonprofessional.’
      • ‘Even when Willis is reintroduced, his character becomes more interesting.’
      • ‘The rules also state the actors take their characters seriously enough and forgo the ironic winks that provide a safety net for their ego, but can pop the bubble of the plot.’
      • ‘The cast is excellent, and the actors really embrace their characters and have fun with them.’
      • ‘What's fantastic to see is the way the actor delves into his character and stretches himself.’
      • ‘If there's one thing all the actors share with their characters, it's a remarkable sense of community and camaraderie.’
      • ‘She works hard to make her character seem real.’
      • ‘Can you separate your film characters from your personal life?’
      persona, person, role, part
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    2. 2.2with adjective A person seen in terms of a particular aspect of character.
      ‘he was a larger-than-life character’
      ‘shady characters’
      • ‘Nick is convinced that his story is true, despite earlier doubts and perceptions of Jay as a rather shady character.’
      • ‘All around him were shadowy characters with unusual names, each appearing unimposing yet extremely confident and strong.’
      • ‘Pietersen thinks he has matured as a person since those bad times at Notts earned him a reputation as an abrasive character.’
      • ‘A variety of questionable characters order drinks, which you must concoct.’
      • ‘He's a fairly aggressive and tenacious character in business terms.’
      • ‘He walked into the debriefing room and was greeted by General Li, a suspicious and shady character.’
      • ‘I'm sure someone in the office will be more than willing to give me a record on this shady character.’
      • ‘Galen is a larger-than-life kind of character, due to his immense knowledge and power.’
      • ‘Bob was a shady seeming character who hung out around the docks rather a lot.’
      • ‘He's a slippery character whose public statements remind you of a fellow Rhodes scholar from Arkansas.’
      • ‘Given his reputation as a carefree character, it is no surprise that he balked at living under the constant scrutiny of Sir Clive's microscope.’
    3. 2.3informal An unusual or amusing person.
      ‘she's a right character with a will of her own’
      • ‘The community lost another one of the great characters of the area at the weekend with the death of Tade Long of Kilcolman and formerly of Tullahinell Asdee.’
      • ‘There just don't seem to be real characters in our game any more.’
      • ‘A most amiable and kindly man, he was held in very high esteem and was a noted character in the area.’
      • ‘Freddie was a legendary character in the area and his passing marks the end of an era.’
      • ‘McLeish is a fan of one of the Scottish games's real characters, although he knows there is much more to his counterpart than an idiosyncratic management style.’
      • ‘Jim has written to tell us about a particular teacher and family friend who sounds a real character.’
      • ‘The bartenders are different; some of them real characters.’
      • ‘Beside this path we also come across a monument commemorating one of the area's most feisty characters - Lady Lilliard.’
      • ‘We had a real character teaching us in the pre-midterm phase.’
      • ‘In the book he delves into the lives of some of the great characters of the area and clearly demonstrated his writing ability.’
      • ‘On the field he is a wonderful bowler, a very decent batsman and one of the real characters of the game.’
      • ‘Many of them are real characters and a lot of fun to deal with.’
      • ‘I asked her if she had a memory of any of their horses that were real characters.’
      • ‘Fr. Gerry Horan, was a very unusual character in that he was a late vocation to the priesthood.’
      • ‘There are no real characters in many sports anymore.’
      • ‘I also had a chance to meet up with one of the area's great characters, George Higgs, the senior lecturer in catering and hospitality at Borders College.’
      • ‘Many of the great characters of the area are given prominence and of course new and old photographs are in plentiful supply.’
      eccentric, oddity, odd fellow, madcap, crank, original, individualist, nonconformist, rare bird
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  • 3A printed or written letter or symbol.

    • ‘But Chinese characters represent the different meanings of these words, rather than the sounds, which are the same.’
    • ‘The players' names on their jerseys are written in English characters.’
    • ‘They left behind a large hand-made thank you written in black Chinese characters on a red background.’
    • ‘You need to have your destination written out in Chinese characters for cab operators.’
    • ‘Their language, Vlach, is a member of the Romance family of languages and written in Latin characters.’
    • ‘Different kinds of writing brushes can be used to write characters in different styles.’
    • ‘But she is still struggling with writing Chinese characters.’
    • ‘The characters were written sloppily and some of the words were not written properly, so they had to stare at it for some time because they could not figure what was on it.’
    • ‘Plus I had resourcefully thought to ask her to write the Japanese characters out for us.’
    • ‘Before, you had to look for those services to find them, because they were written in small characters.’
    • ‘He wrote five characters on each fan which made the woman angry because she thought all the fans had been ruined.’
    • ‘Chinese does not have an alphabet, but characters representing words, formed from stokes symbolising syllables.’
    • ‘In Chinese the symbol for danger also represents the character for opportunity.’
    • ‘She had Chinese characters written all over the large white tunic wrapped around her body.’
    • ‘The latest version of Microsoft's tablet PC software is capable of recognising even ill-formed characters written on the screen using the pen.’
    • ‘I have Kurdish friends and they usually write with Latin characters.’
    • ‘The camera closes in on a book printed in Chinese characters held open under a moving scanning beam.’
    • ‘When she first studied Chinese, she could only memorize how to read and write the characters.’
    • ‘For a premium, they will also be placed on top of the list and printed in bold red characters for prominence.’
    • ‘The abolition of the use of Chinese characters from all public printing and writing helped achieve nationwide literacy at a remarkable speed.’
    1. 3.1Computing A symbol representing a letter or number.
      • ‘So if you do list your address on a website, consider making it harder for the software to read - perhaps by using HTML equivalents of individual characters.’
      • ‘To keep your URL as simple as possible, try to exclude characters such as question marks and ampersands.’
      • ‘Our articles often need to use symbols for keystrokes when discussing specific tasks and other special characters.’
      • ‘Using one of the arrow characters on the keyboard, I must have opened a html script tag or something.’
      • ‘He couldn't access his e-mail because the wrong characters kept appearing in the password field.’
      letter, figure, symbol, sign, mark, type, cipher, device, hieroglyph, rune
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  • 4Biology
    A characteristic, especially one that assists in the identification of a species.

    • ‘There are line drawings of common characters used in identification: leaf features and twig features.’
    • ‘Unravelling the causative factors associated with the decline or rarity of a species has led workers to look for patterns in key characters among rare species.’
    • ‘However, the data distributions of these characters overlap considerably among species.’
    • ‘Below we summarize the characters and apparent phylogenetic positions of these taxa.’
    • ‘DNA sequences from orthologous loci can provide universal characters for taxonomic identification.’
    • ‘However, until all the characters of the type species are known, its superfamilial position will remain unclear.’
    • ‘The composition of the cell wall varies among species and is an important character for identifying and classifying bacteria.’
    • ‘This character has also been identified in some wild Triticeae species.’
    • ‘The species were identified using morphological characters.’
    • ‘Thus species of these two genera had characters in common, but in others they were different.’
    • ‘As in most other Mediterranean orchids, vegetative characters are similar across species and do not distinguish them.’
    • ‘No single specimen shows all the characters of the species.’
    • ‘These species share many morphological characters and may be considered a grade of evolution.’
    • ‘Identification of many species depends heavily on reproductive characters.’
    • ‘Unquestionably, these species can be more easily identified using classical characters.’
    • ‘Obviously, in any phylogenetic analysis a subset of the characters will retain the ancestral state.’
    • ‘All of these characters make this species useful as a source of genes for improving the genetic diversity of cultivated wheat.’
    • ‘That is the identifying character of the present species, differing from all other species of the genus.’
    • ‘An additional character that separates this species from the cervids is the presence of an abdominal musk gland.’
    • ‘The duck feather did not contain diagnostic characters for species identification.’
    sort, variety, kind, style, type, category, order, breed, species, class, designation, specification, genre, genus, brand, make, ilk, kidney, grain, stamp, mould
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[WITH OBJECT]archaic
  • 1Inscribe or write (something).

    1. 1.1 Describe.
      ‘you have well charactered him’
      • ‘You charactered him very well.’


  • in (or out of) character

    • In keeping (or not in keeping) with someone's usual pattern of behaviour and motives.

      ‘his outburst was entirely in character’
      • ‘This isn't the most flattering anecdote, but the behaviour is in character.’
      • ‘He said emotions could run high at such a traumatic time and cause people to do things that were out of character.’
      • ‘He had an exemplary work record and the attacks were out of character.’
      • ‘It was an act so completely out of character that it caused instant unease to his mother who reported his disappearance to the police.’
      • ‘An outburst would be out of character for such a languid, easy-going figure.’
      • ‘The judge said she could have gone to prison if anybody had been hurt but her job was of value to the community and her behaviour had been out of character.’
      • ‘He claims to be mercenary, yet often acts out of character, especially in the third act.’
      • ‘Their families say the disappearance is completely out of character.’
      • ‘Rachel's disappearance was totally out of character and police yesterday launched a huge appeal for help to trace her.’
      • ‘I have known him for seven years and he's never done anything like it before, it's totally out of character.’
      typical, usual, normal, predictable, habitual, in character
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Middle English: from Old French caractere, via Latin from Greek kharaktēr ‘a stamping tool’. From the early sense ‘distinctive mark’ arose ‘token, feature, or trait’ (early 16th century), and from this ‘a description, especially of a person's qualities’, giving rise to ‘distinguishing qualities’.