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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.
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 traits
  • Any other observer might have seen few but unamiable traits, and have given them a far darker coloring.
  • The features are somewhat dim now, and the vitality is low, but there is no mistaking the hereditary traits.
  • Let's review a few of the traits of each category and see if any of them sound familiar.
  • Strong candidates also possess the traits that will make them successful at the company.
  • But secondary traits alone have no permanent worth in long-term relationships.
  • She's examined the traits of bonobos, orangutans and chimps as well.
  • There are several hypotheses that account for the evolution of human traits.
  • Li believes these traits come from changes in the parts of the genome that regulate other gene activity.
  • When the garbage-loving wolves mate, their pups will be more likely to have the traits that make them comfortable around people.
  • The researchers identified a range of physical traits that suggest human ancestors evolved as distance runners.
British Dictionary definitions for traits


/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 traits



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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traits 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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traits 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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