Definition of characterize in US English:


(British characterise)


[with object]
  • 1Describe the distinctive nature or features of.

    ‘the historian characterized the period as the decade of revolution’
    • ‘Because performance was so good, it was difficult to characterize differences associated with better or worse performance.’
    • ‘Some historians characterize Du Bois's thinking as riddled with contradiction.’
    • ‘It's just not accurate to characterize newspaper design as anything but dynamic.’
    • ‘In a context such as the present, it is necessary to identify and characterise the suggested error, and relate it to the legal rubric under which a decision is challenged.’
    • ‘Mr. Kendall testified that what was being described he would characterize as a workmanship deficiency.’
    • ‘Second, this study suggests that drugs have to be characterized also in terms of the timescale of their effects.’
    • ‘It is only when he is describing the problems of performing the symphonies that he characterises them at all.’
    • ‘It used to be that when you introduced a new material, you spent 10 years characterizing it and understanding it.’
    • ‘He characterises descriptive metaphysics as formulating expressions of norms of representation.’
    • ‘The second stage is characterized as a period of change in syntax and morphology yet stability in lexicon and fluency.’
    • ‘However, only a small number of hotspots have been characterized in detail.’
    • ‘Mark clearly associates the storm with evil by characterizing the wind with the same language he used to describe the demon exorcised by Jesus in chapter 1.’
    • ‘That would involve a characterisation of those laws and there might well be difficulty in characterising those laws as anything other than penal, when one looks at the purpose of the laws.’
    • ‘Only the most revisionist historian would characterize the Confederacy as an insurgency.’
    • ‘The text can be characterized in terms of its length and inherent interest.’
    • ‘Marx characterises this period partly in terms of a change in the form of surplus value.’
    • ‘How could we characterise the nature of conflicts that have emerged throughout the world?’
    • ‘A brand is simply a story or symbol, a way of describing or characterizing an idea, a product or service.’
    • ‘Such reactions have been characterized to a considerable extent for this family of proteins that exists as dimers.’
    • ‘A total of 112 such mutations have been isolated and characterized in this study.’
    distinguish, make distinctive, mark, set apart, identify, specify, signalize, indicate, denote, designate, stamp
    portray, depict, present, represent, describe, outline, delineate, show, draw, sketch
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  • 2(of a feature or quality) be typical or characteristic of.

    ‘the disease is characterized by weakening of the immune system’
    • ‘It is characterized by fever, rash, vomiting, diarrhea and is caused by bacteria.’
    • ‘Consistently high temperatures, with no distinct dry season, characterize the climate of this region.’
    • ‘The cities are characterized by low - density housing and dependence on private cars.’
    • ‘Those early years of our young republic were characterized by chaos and confusion.’
    • ‘The cycle is characterised by a period of growth, then strong growth and then recession.’
    • ‘Instead, he claims the period was characterised by civil wars and broken treaties.’
    • ‘Each period of time is characterised by the ideas espoused at that time and these ideas compared with similar ones of the past.’
    • ‘The Asian business culture is mostly characterized by relationships based on trust and confidence.’
    • ‘A predilection for forms over human figures characterises her work in installation art.’
    • ‘It was a social relationship characterized by an unequal distribution of power and resources.’
    • ‘The house is characterized by peeling paint and uneven flooring that may become a danger to the occupants.’
    • ‘His fiction is characterized by a densely referential and ironic style and by a preoccupation with the act of writing itself.’
    • ‘At its best, the wine is characterized by ripe, firm acidity, and about 65 per cent is dry.’
    • ‘Australian media organizations do not seem to have been characterized by enlightened personnel practices.’
    • ‘For some, it is characterised by periods of relapse and remission, while for others it has a progressive pattern.’
    • ‘All boom periods have been characterised by a huge increase in personal and corporate leverage.’
    • ‘The early part of the period was characterised by modest profit levels despite the vast expansion of the domestic market.’
    • ‘It is characterized by inadequate energy and a feeling that one's emotional resources are consumed.’
    • ‘In spite of this the Oxford examination system is characterised by a distinct lack of accountability to the student body.’
    • ‘They believe young children developing language skills are better at picking up the more distinct vowel sounds which characterise baby talk.’
    epitomize, exemplify, be representative of, represent, be characteristic of
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Late 16th century (in the sense ‘engrave, inscribe’): from French caractériser or medieval Latin characterizare, from Greek kharaktērizein, from kharaktēr ‘a stamping tool’.