in character


the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.
one such feature or trait; characteristic.
moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character.
qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity: It takes character to face up to a bully.
reputation: a stain on one's character.
good repute.
an account of the qualities or peculiarities of a person or thing.
a person, especially with reference to behavior or personality: a suspicious character.
Informal. an odd, eccentric, or unusual person.
a person represented in a drama, story, etc.
a part or role, as in a play or film.
a symbol as used in a writing system, as a letter of the alphabet.
the symbols of a writing system collectively.
a significant visual mark or symbol.
status or capacity: the character of a justice of the peace.
a written statement from an employer concerning the qualities of a former employee.
Literature. (especially in 17th- and 18th-century England) a formal character sketch or descriptive analysis of a particular human virtue or vice as represented in a person or type. Compare character sketch.
Genetics. any trait, function, structure, or substance of an organism resulting from the effect of one or more genes as modified by the environment.
any symbol, as a number, letter, punctuation mark, etc., that represents data and that, when encoded, is usable by a machine.
one of a set of basic symbols that singly or in a series of two or more represents data and, when encoded, is usable in a computer.
a style of writing or printing.
Roman Catholic Theology. the ineffaceable imprint received on the soul through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and ordination.
(formerly) a cipher or cipher message.
(of a part or role) representing a personality type, especially by emphasizing distinctive traits, as language, mannerisms, physical makeup, etc.
(of an actor or actress) acting or specializing in such roles.
verb (used with object) Archaic.
to portray; describe.
to engrave; inscribe.
in character,
in harmony with one's personal character or disposition: Such behavior is not in character for him.
in accordance with the role or personality assumed in a performance: an actor in character.
out of character,
out of harmony with one's personal character or disposition: Her remarks were out of character.
away from the role or personality assumed in a performance: The actor stepped out of character.

1275–1325; < Latin < Greek charaktḗr graving tool, its mark, equivalent to charak- (base of charáttein to engrave) + -tēr agent suffix; replacing Middle English caractere < Middle French < Latin, as above

characterless, adjective
uncharactered, adjective

1. Character, individuality, personality refer to the sum of the characteristics possessed by a person. Character refers especially to moral qualities, ethical standards, principles, and the like: a man of sterling character. Individuality refers to the distinctive qualities that make one recognizable as a person differentiated from others: a woman of strong individuality. Personality refers particularly to the combination of outer and inner characteristics that determine the impression that a person makes upon others: a child of vivid or pleasing personality. 5. name, repute. See reputation. 14. sign. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
character (ˈkærɪktə)
1.  the combination of traits and qualities distinguishing the individual nature of a person or thing
2.  one such distinguishing quality; characteristic
3.  moral force; integrity: a man of character
4.  a.  reputation, esp a good reputation
 b.  (as modifier): character assassination
5.  a summary or account of a person's qualities and achievements; testimonial: my last employer gave me a good character
6.  capacity, position, or status: he spoke in the character of a friend rather than a father
7.  a person represented in a play, film, story, etc; role
8.  an outstanding person: one of the great characters of the century
9.  informal an odd, eccentric, or unusual person: he's quite a character
10.  an informal word for person : a shady character
11.  a symbol used in a writing system, such as a letter of the alphabet
12.  printing Also called: sort any single letter, numeral, punctuation mark, or symbol cast as a type
13.  computing any letter, numeral, etc, which is a unit of information and can be represented uniquely by a binary pattern
14.  a style of writing or printing
15.  genetics any structure, function, attribute, etc, in an organism, which may or may not be determined by a gene or group of genes
16.  a short prose sketch of a distinctive type of person, usually representing a vice or virtue
17.  in character typical of the apparent character of a person or thing
18.  out of character not typical of the apparent character of a person or thing
19.  to write, print, inscribe, or engrave
20.  rare to portray or represent
[C14: from Latin: distinguishing mark, from Greek kharaktēr engraver's tool, from kharassein to engrave, stamp]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

early 14c., from O.Fr. caractere, from L. character, from Gk. kharakter "engraved mark," from kharassein "to engrave," from kharax "pointed stake." Meaning extended by metaphor to "a defining quality."
"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.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

character char·ac·ter (kār'ək-tər)
An attribute, trait, or distinct structural or functional feature. Also called characteristic.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
character   (kār'ək-tər)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. Genetics A structure, function, or attribute determined by a gene or a group of genes.

  2. Computer Science A symbol, such as a letter, number, or punctuation mark, that occupies one byte of memory. See more at ASCII.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

character definition

A person in a literary work. For example, Ebenezer Scrooge is a character in A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

in character

Consistent with someone's general personality or behavior. For example, Her failure to answer the invitation was completely in character. This usage dates from the mid-1700s, as does the antonym, out of character, as in It was out of character for him to refuse the assignment.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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