Definition of character in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkerəktər/


1The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual: running away was not in keeping with her character
More example sentences
  • It was not about you, your character, your mental stability, or the quality of your essay.
  • 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.
1.1The distinctive nature of something: gas lamps give the area its character
More example sentences
  • Residents were notified of the scheme late last week and claim it will completely change the character of the area.
  • Hopefully your personality will fit well with the character and nature of your team.
  • Obviously the court must recognise and pay regard to the character and nature of the business in question.
1.2The quality of being individual, typically in an interesting or unusual way: the island is full of character
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Many bed and breakfasts have individual charm and character, often in the spirit of the locale.
1.3Strength and originality in a person’s nature: she had character as well as beauty
More example sentences
  • People are going to be amazed at her strength of character and her intellect.
  • Many apparently well-balanced people have no strength of character.
  • Let's pray my husband has the same courage and strength of character.
integrity, honor, moral strength, moral fiber, rectitude, uprightness;
informal guts, gutsiness
1.4A person’s good reputation: to what do I owe this attack on my character?
More example sentences
  • 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 right is spending time and effort attacking the character of a man responsible for the nation's security.
1.5 dated A written statement of someone’s good qualities; a recommendation.
Example sentences
  • Around 70 more residents wrote individual testimonials and character references.
  • Time and again she finds a resonance between her own experiences and Annie's, who, dismissed without a character, is forced into prostitution.
  • 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.
2A person in a novel, play, or movie.
Example sentences
  • 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.
2.1A part played by an actor.
Example sentences
  • The actors transformed into their characters.
  • 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.
  • Nonetheless, all actors portray their characters so well that they don't fail to evoke hilarious laughter and empathy overall.
2.2 [with adjective] A person seen in terms of a particular aspect of character: he was a larger-than-life character shady characters
More example sentences
  • He's a fairly aggressive and tenacious character in business terms.
  • Nick is convinced that his story is true, despite earlier doubts and perceptions of Jay as a rather shady character.
  • He walked into the debriefing room and was greeted by General Li, a suspicious and shady character.
2.3 informal An interesting or amusing individual: he’s a real character
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • There are no real characters in many sports anymore.
eccentric, oddity, madcap, crank, individualist, nonconformist, rare bird, free spirit
informal oddball
3A printed or written letter or symbol.
Example sentences
  • The abolition of the use of Chinese characters from all public printing and writing helped achieve nationwide literacy at a remarkable speed.
  • For a premium, they will also be placed on top of the list and printed in bold red characters for prominence.
  • The camera closes in on a book printed in Chinese characters held open under a moving scanning beam.
3.1 Computing A symbol representing a letter or number.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • He couldn't access his e-mail because the wrong characters kept appearing in the password field.
4chiefly Biology A characteristic, especially one that assists in the identification of a species.
Example sentences
  • The duck feather did not contain diagnostic characters for species identification.
  • These species share many morphological characters and may be considered a grade of evolution.
  • As in most other Mediterranean orchids, vegetative characters are similar across species and do not distinguish them.


[with object] archaic
1.1Describe; characterize: you have well charactered him
More example sentences
  • You charactered him very well.


in (or out of) character

In keeping (or not in keeping) with someone’s usual pattern of behavior.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • This isn't the most flattering anecdote, but the behaviour is in character.
  • He claims to be mercenary, yet often acts out of character, especially in the third act.



Pronunciation: /-fəl/
Example sentences
  • A characterful and combative politician, a powerful intellect, and a strong advocate and judge, his breadth of achievement was remarkable.
  • It would be a characterful old property in a beautiful spot, a civilised yet affordable hideaway (not snobbishly exclusive) where guests would feel relaxed but well looked after.
  • Its winemakers are rediscovering almost forgotten indigenous varieties from Portugal's natural larder that include some of the most characterful grape varieties in the world.


Example sentences
  • Speaking in Spanish, he occasionally interrupts the translator in characterfully imperfect English.
  • The Guildhall Strings are excellent and play characterfully and with a consummate grasp of the spirit of the pieces.
  • The bedrooms, all en suite, are characterfully decorated and provide accommodation for individuals, friends and families.


Pronunciation: /ˈker(ə)ktərˌləs/
Example sentences
  • But more and more countryside is being taken over by housing and protesters fear Winchester could become another characterless suburban sprawl if the Barton Farm development goes ahead.
  • I've never been a fan of the out-of-town shopping experience, with its huge, characterless soulless warehouses and dodgy trading ethics.
  • They are formless, characterless, and uninteresting.


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'.

  • This goes back to Greek kharaktēr ‘a stamping tool’. The first English sense was of a distinguishing mark made on something. By the early 16th century we find ‘feature, or trait’ from which the modern senses have evolved.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: char·ac·ter

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