[treyt; British also trey]
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.

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. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
trait (treɪt, treɪ)
1.  a characteristic feature or quality distinguishing a particular person or thing
2.  rare a touch or stroke
[C16: from French, from Old French: a pulling, from Latin tractus, from trahere to drag]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

c.1477, "shot, missiles," later "a stroke, short line" (1589), from M.Fr. trait, from L. tractus "draft, drawing, drawing out," later "line drawn, feature," from pp. stem of trahere "to pull, draw" (see tract (1)). Sense of "particular feature, distinguishing quality" is first
recorded 1752, from meaning "line, streak, feature" (1561), which is common to Eng., Fr. and L.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

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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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
trait   (trāt)  Pronunciation Key 
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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Encyclopedia Britannica


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

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
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
The proportionally long necks of sauropods must have had some adaptive
  advantage for the trait to be so widespread and persistent.
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