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"You remember Eponina, who kept her husband alive in an underground cavern so devotedly and heroically? The force of character she showed in keeping up his spirits would have been used to hide a lover from her husband if they had been living quietly in Rome. Strong characters need strong nourishment." [Stendhal, "De l'Amour" 1822]Sense of "person in a play or novel" is first attested 1660s, in reference to the "defining qualities" he or she is given by the author. The Latin ch- spelling was restored 1500s.
character char·ac·ter (kār'ək-tər)
An attribute, trait, or distinct structural or functional feature. Also called characteristic.
in biology, any observable feature, or trait, of an organism, whether acquired or inherited. An acquired character is a response to the environment; an inherited character is produced by genes transmitted from parent to offspring (their expressions are often modified by environmental conditions). One gene may affect many characters; one character may be controlled by many genes. A character controlled by only a few genes is known as an oligogenic, discontinuous, or qualitative character; a character controlled by many genes is termed polygenic, continuous, or quantitative. A genetically controlled character may be termed dominant when its controlling genes are powerful enough to mask the effect of other genes (alleles) that control an alternative character, termed recessive