Definition of character in English:

character

noun

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

    ‘running away was not in keeping with her character’
    • ‘That speaks volumes about his independent character and nature and also remarkable skill set.’
    • ‘Tutors could tailor their instructions to the individual characters and capabilities of students, as well as providing moral guidance.’
    • ‘How a crime impacts on a family member depends on specific circumstances, on different individuals' personalities and characters.’
    • ‘He has qualities of character rare in politics at the top, and hardly manifest in the president himself.’
    • ‘These are traits of character that express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii's people.’
    • ‘She says that the character of an individual can be assessed by the handwriting.’
    • ‘You would like to demonstrate the unique quality of your character to all and sundry.’
    • ‘Does that say something about the character of the individuals involved?’
    • ‘I'm fascinated by this character trait known as charm or charisma.’
    • ‘Such a limitation requires a strong breed of man, however, with a quality of character and nobility of soul.’
    • ‘It was not about you, your character, your mental stability, or the quality of your essay.’
    • ‘Writing reflects the character of a person like nothing else.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘So, she found herself curious as to his reactions to this particular aspect of her character.’
    • ‘Another unusual aspect of Fred's character is his ability to pick and nurture people.’
    • ‘In many tribal cultures, those born with strange and unusual character traits were held in awe.’
    • ‘Humans vary in strength, intelligence, character, abilities, and a thousand other things.’
    • ‘Some of us must face moments in our lives that will define not only our character but also our moral fiber.’
    • ‘Kibbutz mothers who hoped to treat everyone the same thus also wanted to express their individual characters by molding their own kids.’
    • ‘If I had to name the most unpleasant aspect of my character, the thing I dislike about myself the most, I'd say jealousy.’
    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’
      • ‘Under the legislation, a local authority may include plans to preserve the character of the areas to ensure their preservation.’
      • ‘Some villagers also claim that a temporary classroom in such a prominent location would destroy the character of the area.’
      • ‘Officers, however, are recommending the scheme because it is considered to have a minimal impact on the rural character of the area.’
      • ‘The association works to preserve the rural character of the area east of the Sammamish Valley.’
      • ‘Less problematic is the multidisciplinary character of Peoples of a Spacious Land.’
      • ‘Obviously the court must recognise and pay regard to the character and nature of the business in question.’
      • ‘They cared very much about the character of individual varieties.’
      • ‘The area had its own character, and you could smell the atmosphere of old Milano, the Milano of Giuseppe Verdi.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘However, any development must be sensitive to the character of the surrounding area and not lead to excessive parking or traffic pressures.’
      • ‘The development will be in keeping with the character of this conservation 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Hopefully your personality will fit well with the character and nature of your team.’
      • ‘The sandstone is widely used in buildings and walls in the area, giving it a distinctive character.’
      • ‘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. 1.2 The quality of being individual in an interesting or unusual way.
      ‘the island 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.’
      • ‘This is a charming home with lots of character and an interesting history.’
      • ‘Both were unusually large, full of character, and hollow, which meant you could walk around inside them.’
      • ‘Full of character, romance and charm, these suites are extremely comfortable and make the perfect weekend hideaway.’
      • ‘It's full of character and charm, spilling down a hill and looking over treetops.’
      • ‘It is open plan, though has plenty of character and original features, such as the sea and sky.’
      • ‘Its small knots and colour variations can make for a lively, interesting floor that is full of character.’
      • ‘Many bed and breakfasts have individual charm and character, often in the spirit of the locale.’
      • ‘Even if a lot of the original furniture was replaced, Fowler keeps the principle that every room has its own individual character.’
    3. 1.3 Strength and originality in a person's nature.
      ‘she had character as well as beauty’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I liked the way he maintained my gaze; he certainly has strength of character.’
      • ‘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 had high standards, true character and integrity; he would not tolerate a lie.’
      • ‘Let's pray my husband has the same courage and strength of character.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Many apparently well-balanced people have no strength of character.’
      • ‘Her strength of character helped her overcome all her problems and she showed an amazing amount of courage.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The disease has now spread to her lungs, and she is in more pain, but her remarkable strength of character still shines through.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Both were teenagers on the other side of the globe from their families, yet both had the strength of character to survive and flourish.’
      • ‘Their courage and strength of character is an inspiration to the rest of us.’
      • ‘He showed incredible strength of character under the most extreme circumstances.’
      • ‘Jonathan was a man of great courage and strength of character; he was a fighter.’
      • ‘People are going to be amazed at her strength of character and her intellect.’
      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.’
      • ‘The court was told that Liversage, who was described as being of previous good character, was originally charged with assault by beating.’
      • ‘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.’
      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 recommendation.
      • ‘Time and again she finds a resonance between her own experiences and Annie's, who, dismissed without a character, is forced into prostitution.’
      • ‘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.’
      reference, character reference, recommendation, letter of recommendation, commendation, endorsement, certificate of competence
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  • 2A person in a novel, play, or movie.

    • ‘Each character has an interesting back story which explains how they got to be on the plane.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The production team managed to simplify the complicated relationships between the multitude of characters appearing in the novel.’
    • ‘Male novelists are often accused of writing unconvincing female characters, but this novel has to create a strong protagonist in Tara Mullray.’
    • ‘The ultimate climax of the play was the evolution of each individual character.’
    • ‘The main characters of this film were all people who actually existed in history.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The characters in both the novel and film are very two-dimensional topped off by a smug happy ending which feels empty.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘Hinton usually writes her stories in the first person, to reinforce the strong individual identities of her characters.’
    • ‘From the beginning of his career Shakespeare made use of low-life characters as moral commentators.’
    • ‘The theme of the film involves the central characters encountering new situations while running away from the problems of adulthood.’
    • ‘Many of the strongest, most memorable characters in the novels are women.’
    • ‘In contrast Austen portrays central characters who have mistaken first impressions about others.’
    • ‘Hollywood will be required to cast English actors to play English characters.’
    • ‘The other obvious question: Will there be a third film with these characters?’
    • ‘Wilde's unprecedented response was to attempt to curb novelists introducing fictional characters who spoke like him.’
    • ‘It's really hard to make a character so devoid of morals so watchable and likable.’
    • ‘And I remember thinking that Lenny was a really interesting character.’
    persona, person, role, part
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    1. 2.1 A part played by an actor.
      • ‘Depp also appreciated the mischievous nature and never-say-die attitude of his character.’
      • ‘The line between Allen's own personality and his screen characters is distinctly blurred here, a trait of many of his subsequent movies.’
      • ‘He appears to have resolved these anxieties by stressing the moral gulf between his characters and his own beliefs.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Nonetheless, all actors portray their characters so well that they don't fail to evoke hilarious laughter and empathy overall.’
      • ‘I have no interest in watching an actor talk about his character in a movie.’
      • ‘Can you separate your film characters from your personal life?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Where many actors hide behind their characters, you do seem to delight in revealing yourself.’
      • ‘Spacek uses the mental limitations of her character as a springboard for her performance.’
      • ‘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 actors have their characters down from the opening scene of the first show.’
      • ‘All of the actors except the main character Frank are nonprofessional.’
      • ‘She even divulged details of the plot from the three as-yet-unpublished Harry Potter books, to help the actors understand their characters.’
      • ‘Even when Willis is reintroduced, his character becomes more interesting.’
      • ‘The actors transformed into their characters.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The emotional commitment of all the actors to their characters is outstanding.’
      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’
      • ‘He's a slippery character whose public statements remind you of a fellow Rhodes scholar from Arkansas.’
      • ‘He walked into the debriefing room and was greeted by General Li, a suspicious and shady character.’
      • ‘He's a fairly aggressive and tenacious character in business terms.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I'm sure someone in the office will be more than willing to give me a record on this shady character.’
      • ‘All around him were shadowy characters with unusual names, each appearing unimposing yet extremely confident and strong.’
      • ‘Bob was a shady seeming character who hung out around the docks rather a lot.’
      • ‘Galen is a larger-than-life kind of character, due to his immense knowledge and power.’
      • ‘A variety of questionable characters order drinks, which you must concoct.’
      • ‘Pietersen thinks he has matured as a person since those bad times at Notts earned him a reputation as an abrasive character.’
      • ‘Nick is convinced that his story is true, despite earlier doubts and perceptions of Jay as a rather shady character.’
    3. 2.3informal An interesting or amusing individual.
      ‘he's a real character’
      • ‘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 are no real characters in many sports anymore.’
      • ‘In the book he delves into the lives of some of the great characters of the area and clearly demonstrated his writing ability.’
      • ‘A most amiable and kindly man, he was held in very high esteem and was a noted character in the area.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Freddie was a legendary character in the area and his passing marks the end of an era.’
      • ‘On the field he is a wonderful bowler, a very decent batsman and one of the real characters of the game.’
      • ‘We had a real character teaching us in the pre-midterm phase.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Beside this path we also come across a monument commemorating one of the area's most feisty characters - Lady Lilliard.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Fr. Gerry Horan, was a very unusual character in that he was a late vocation to the priesthood.’
      • ‘Many of the great characters of the area are given prominence and of course new and old photographs are in plentiful supply.’
      • ‘There just don't seem to be real characters in our game any more.’
      eccentric, oddity, odd fellow, madcap, crank, original, individualist, nonconformist, rare bird
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  • 3A printed or written letter or symbol.

    • ‘The abolition of the use of Chinese characters from all public printing and writing helped achieve nationwide literacy at a remarkable speed.’
    • ‘When she first studied Chinese, she could only memorize how to read and write the characters.’
    • ‘Before, you had to look for those services to find them, because they were written in small characters.’
    • ‘They left behind a large hand-made thank you written in black Chinese characters on a red background.’
    • ‘The camera closes in on a book printed in Chinese characters held open under a moving scanning beam.’
    • ‘You need to have your destination written out in Chinese characters for cab operators.’
    • ‘In Chinese the symbol for danger also represents the character for opportunity.’
    • ‘Different kinds of writing brushes can be used to write characters in different styles.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The players' names on their jerseys are written in English characters.’
    • ‘Their language, Vlach, is a member of the Romance family of languages and written in Latin characters.’
    • ‘But Chinese characters represent the different meanings of these words, rather than the sounds, which are the same.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For a premium, they will also be placed on top of the list and printed in bold red characters for prominence.’
    • ‘The latest version of Microsoft's tablet PC software is capable of recognising even ill-formed characters written on the screen using the pen.’
    • ‘But she is still struggling with writing Chinese characters.’
    • ‘I have Kurdish friends and they usually write with Latin characters.’
    • ‘She had Chinese characters written all over the large white tunic wrapped around her body.’
    • ‘Plus I had resourcefully thought to ask her to write the Japanese characters out for us.’
    1. 3.1Computing A symbol representing a letter or number.
      • ‘Using one of the arrow characters on the keyboard, I must have opened a html script tag or something.’
      • ‘Our articles often need to use symbols for keystrokes when discussing specific tasks and other special characters.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.

    • ‘However, the data distributions of these characters overlap considerably among species.’
    • ‘That is the identifying character of the present species, differing from all other species of the genus.’
    • ‘The duck feather did not contain diagnostic characters for species identification.’
    • ‘Thus species of these two genera had characters in common, but in others they were different.’
    • ‘Obviously, in any phylogenetic analysis a subset of the characters will retain the ancestral state.’
    • ‘The composition of the cell wall varies among species and is an important character for identifying and classifying bacteria.’
    • ‘An additional character that separates this species from the cervids is the presence of an abdominal musk gland.’
    • ‘However, until all the characters of the type species are known, its superfamilial position will remain unclear.’
    • ‘DNA sequences from orthologous loci can provide universal characters for taxonomic identification.’
    • ‘Identification of many species depends heavily on reproductive characters.’
    • ‘These species share many morphological characters and may be considered a grade of evolution.’
    • ‘The species were identified using morphological characters.’
    • ‘No single specimen shows all the characters of the species.’
    • ‘Unquestionably, these species can be more easily identified using classical characters.’
    • ‘As in most other Mediterranean orchids, vegetative characters are similar across species and do not distinguish them.’
    • ‘All of these characters make this species useful as a source of genes for improving the genetic diversity of cultivated wheat.’
    • ‘This character has also been identified in some wild Triticeae species.’
    • ‘Below we summarize the characters and apparent phylogenetic positions of these taxa.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There are line drawings of common characters used in identification: leaf features and twig features.’
    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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verb

[WITH OBJECT]archaic
  • 1Inscribe; engrave.

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

Phrases

  • in (or out of) character

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

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He said emotions could run high at such a traumatic time and cause people to do things that were out of character.’
      • ‘He claims to be mercenary, yet often acts out of character, especially in the third act.’
      • ‘An outburst would be out of character for such a languid, easy-going figure.’
      • ‘This isn't the most flattering anecdote, but the behaviour is in character.’
      • ‘I have known him for seven years and he's never done anything like it before, it's totally 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.’
      • ‘He had an exemplary work record and the attacks were out of character.’
      • ‘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.’
      typical, usual, normal, predictable, habitual, in character
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Origin

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’.

Pronunciation

character

/ˈkɛrəktər//ˈkerəktər/