Definition of characteristic in English:



  • Typical of a particular person, place, or thing.

    ‘large farms are characteristic of this area’
    • ‘Michael died following a relatively short illness borne with characteristic bravery and courage.’
    • ‘Cremation of the dead is one of the most characteristic features of Indian or Hindu civilization.’
    • ‘She spoke all along with that characteristic exuberance on her face.’
    • ‘Even when he returned to Africa he described the experience in characteristic terms.’
    • ‘Different health conditions impede development in characteristic ways.’
    • ‘Kara couldn't help smiling at Toni's characteristic ability to understand her better than she understood herself.’
    • ‘From my experience, what is very characteristic of what we see here in Thailand is the failed attempt to win a real trophy.’
    • ‘It is very characteristic of the Hellenistic period, but shows evidence of an Augustan remodelling.’
    • ‘He battled his illness with characteristic courage and fortitude and displayed a positive attitude to the end.’
    • ‘Dishes in each region have their own set of characteristic flavours.’
    • ‘Here he has met some setbacks, but with characteristic determination he is going to try again.’
    • ‘‘Our band is hugely gifted,’ he has explained with characteristic modesty.’
    • ‘Alongside these broad visions is characteristic attention to detail.’
    • ‘Not only did he write a great story, but he also directed it with characteristic verve and energy.’
    • ‘He tackled the central themes of the war with characteristic wit during a lecture last year at the Edinburgh Book Festival.’
    • ‘Benton looked about the table and, with characteristic bluntness, said, ‘Who are all these people?’’
    • ‘The Queen turned at the top of the cathedral steps to acknowledge well-wishers with a broad smile and characteristic wave.’
    • ‘By that time, he had evolved that characteristic style of his.’
    • ‘There is one characteristic thread that runs through the various ways in which these authority figures expressed themselves.’
    • ‘She readily posed for group photos with that characteristic smile always on her lips.’
    typical, usual, normal, predictable, habitual, in character
    distinctive, distinguishing, particular, special, especial, individual, specific, peculiar, idiosyncratic, singular, unique, exclusive, unmistakable
    representative, symbolic, symptomatic, indicative, diagnostic
    View synonyms


  • 1A feature or quality belonging typically to a person, place, or thing and serving to identify it.

    ‘inherited characteristics such as blood groups’
    • ‘Perhaps one characteristic above all else defines explorers.’
    • ‘Every facial feature and physical characteristic was identical to Alastair's.’
    • ‘To see an apprentice with these qualities and characteristics was not a common sight in the eighties.’
    • ‘Each of these has its own characteristics and is therefore distinguishable from the others.’
    • ‘It may seem facile, but teams do reflect the traits and characteristics of their coaches.’
    • ‘At the same time, most of these characteristics belong to any good person.’
    • ‘A distinguishing characteristic of female voters is their caution.’
    • ‘There can be no doubt that soil characteristics do influence wine quality.’
    • ‘The characteristic that distinguishes international politics from internal politics is the absence of government.’
    • ‘Sociability is a distinguishing characteristic of the islands and often is commented on by visitors.’
    • ‘Is Hinduism a religion like others, and what are the principal characteristics which define it?’
    • ‘These characteristics were presumably inherited from his mother, a German princess.’
    • ‘The characteristic which has most marked his career has been his good judgement.’
    • ‘The slow, melancholic songs are a distinctive characteristic of her music.’
    • ‘Whether such characteristics do define what it is to be British today is debatable.’
    • ‘A national characteristic has been identified in numerous scientific trials.’
    • ‘Religious dissent is a key characteristic of Scots-Irish identity.’
    • ‘A sentimental identification with the underdog is one of our national characteristics.’
    • ‘From the same list, I had to choose the characteristics that others would attribute to me.’
    • ‘Some sharks have distinct characteristics that set them apart from others.’
    attribute, feature
    quality, essential quality, property, trait, aspect, element, facet
    mannerism, manner, habit, custom, way, mark, trademark, hallmark, distinction
    idiosyncrasy, peculiarity, quirk, oddity, foible
    penchant, proclivity, bent
    View synonyms
  • 2Mathematics
    The whole number or integral part of a logarithm, which gives the order of magnitude of the original number.

    • ‘His habilitation of 1938 studied Lie rings of prime characteristic.’
    • ‘His early work was on quadratic forms in fields, particularly fields of characteristic 2.’


Mid 17th century: from French caractéristique or medieval Latin characteristicus, from Greek kharaktēristikos, from kharaktēr a stamping tool.