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[kar-ik-tuh-rahyz] /ˈkær ɪk təˌraɪz/
verb (used with object), characterized, characterizing.
to mark or distinguish as a characteristic; be a characteristic of:
Rich metaphors characterize his poetry.
to describe the character or individual quality of:
He characterized her in a few well-chosen words.
to attribute character to:
to characterize him as a coward.
Also, especially British, characterise.
Origin of characterize
1585-95; < Medieval Latin charactērizāre < Greek charaktērízein. See character, -ize
Related forms
characterizable, adjective
characterizer, noun
mischaracterize, verb (used with object), mischaracterized, mischaracterizing.
noncharacterized, adjective
recharacterize, verb (used with object), recharacterized, recharacterizing.
uncharacterized, adjective
well-characterized, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for characterized
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Riot and disorder too often characterized the events of that season.

    A Clerk of Oxford Evelyn Everett-Green
  • It was characterized as "a policy of which peace, progress and retrenchment were the watchwords."

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • The feat had been performed with the steady gallantry that characterized all the similar attempts on the river.

  • From the very beginning, the American people have been characterized by idealism.

    The American Mind Bliss Perry
  • He spoke in the cold and deliberate manner which characterized his demeanour whenever he was independent of his wife.

    Trevethlan (Vol 3 of 3) William Davy Watson
British Dictionary definitions for characterized


verb (transitive)
to be a characteristic of: loneliness characterized the place
to distinguish or mark as a characteristic
to describe or portray the character of
Derived Forms
characterizable, characterisable, adjective
characterizer, characteriser, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for characterized



1590s, "to engrave, write," back-formation from characterization, or else from Medieval Latin characterizare, from Greek kharakterizein "to designate by a characteristic mark," from kharakter (see character). Meaning "to describe the qualities of" is recorded from 1630s; that of "to be characteristic" is from 1744. Related: Characterized; characterizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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