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[treyt; British also trey] /treɪt; British also treɪ/
a distinguishing characteristic or quality, especially of one's personal nature:
bad traits of character.
a pen or pencil stroke.
a stroke, touch, or strain, as of some quality:
a trait of pathos; a trait of ready wit.
Origin of trait
1470-80; < Middle French: literally, something drawn < Latin tractus. See tract1
1. peculiarity, mark, attribute, property. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for trait
  • There is a third characteristic trait, a dauntless courage in accepting life.
  • Rarely does one gene determine one trait, and rarely does one trait vary because of one gene.
  • Also a mutation could only result in a variation of a trait that is already there.
  • The proportionally long necks of sauropods must have had some adaptive advantage for the trait to be so widespread and persistent.
  • The more developed the trait, the larger the organ, and the larger a protrusion it formed in the skull.
  • Rabbits, however, may be less likely to share this trait with their hare relatives.
  • What suggestions of imperturbability and being, as against the human trait of mere seeming.
  • Sooner or later that which is now life shall be poetry, and every fair and manly trait shall add a richer strain to the song.
  • The loss here would have been far heavier than it was had it not been for a curious trait shown by the cattle.
  • One could not catch a trait of the past, still less of the future.
British Dictionary definitions for trait


/treɪt; treɪ/
a characteristic feature or quality distinguishing a particular person or thing
(rare) a touch or stroke
Word Origin
C16: from French, from Old French: a pulling, from Latin tractus, from trahere to drag
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 trait

late 15c., "shot, missiles;" later "a stroke, short line" (1580s), from Middle French trait, from Latin tractus "draft, drawing, drawing out," later "line drawn, feature," from past participle stem of trahere "to pull, draw" (see tract (n.1)). Sense of "particular feature, distinguishing quality" is first recorded 1752, from meaning "line, streak, feature" (1560s), which is common to English, French, and Latin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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trait in Medicine

trait (trāt)
A characteristic, especially one that distinguishes an individual from others.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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trait in Science
A genetically determined characteristic or condition. Traits may be physical, such as hair color or leaf shape, or they may be behavioral, such as nesting in birds and burrowing in rodents. Traits typically result from the combined action of several genes, though some traits are expressed by a single gene.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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