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character Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun an imaginary person represented in a work of fiction (play or film or story)
    fictional character; fictitious character.
    • she is the main character in the novel
  2. noun a characteristic property that defines the apparent individual nature of something
    lineament; quality.
    • each town has a quality all its own
    • the radical character of our demands
  3. noun the inherent complex of attributes that determines a persons moral and ethical actions and reactions
    fibre; fiber.
    • education has for its object the formation of character"- Herbert Spencer
  4. noun an actor's portrayal of someone in a play
    role; part; persona; theatrical role.
    • she played the part of Desdemona
  5. noun a person of a specified kind (usually with many eccentricities)
    case; eccentric; type.
    • a real character
    • a strange character
    • a friendly eccentric
    • the capable type
    • a mental case
  6. noun good repute
    • he is a man of character
  7. noun a formal recommendation by a former employer to a potential future employer describing the person's qualifications and dependability
    character reference; reference.
    • requests for character references are all too often answered evasively
  8. noun a written symbol that is used to represent speech
    graphic symbol; grapheme.
    • the Greek alphabet has 24 characters
  9. noun (genetics) an attribute (structural or functional) that is determined by a gene or group of genes
  10. verb engrave or inscribe characters on

Char"ac*ter noun
L., an instrument for marking, character, Gr. , fr. to make sharp, to cut into furrows, to engrave: cf. F. caractère.
  1. A distinctive mark; a letter, figure, or symbol.
    It were much to be wished that there were throughout the world but one sort of character for each letter to express it to the eye. Holder.
  2. Style of writing or printing; handwriting; the peculiar form of letters used by a particular person or people; as, an inscription in the Runic character.
    You know the character to be your brother's? Shak.
  3. The peculiar quality, or the sum of qualities, by which a person or a thing is distinguished from others; the stamp impressed by nature, education, or habit; that which a person or thing really is; nature; disposition.
    The character or that dominion. Milton.
    Know well each Ancient's proper character; His fable, subject, scope in every page; Religion, Country, genius of his Age. Pope.
    A man of . . . thoroughly subservient character. Motley.
  4. Strength of mind; resolution; independence; individuality; as, he has a great deal of character.
  5. Moral quality; the principles and motives that control the life; as, a man of character; his character saves him from suspicion.
  6. Quality, position, rank, or capacity; quality or conduct with respect to a certain office or duty; as, in the miserable character of a slave; in his character as a magistrate; her character as a daughter.
  7. The estimate, individual or general, put upon a person or thing; reputation; as, a man's character for truth and veracity; to give one a bad character.
    This subterraneous passage is much mended since Seneca gave so bad a character of it. Addison.
  8. A written statement as to behavior, competency, etc., given to a servant. Colloq.
  9. A unique or extraordinary individuality; a person characterized by peculiar or notable traits; a person who illustrates certain phases of character; as, Randolph was a character; Cæsar is a great historical character.
  10. One of the persons of a drama or novel. ✍ "It would be well if character and reputation were used distinctively. In truth, character is what a person is; reputation is what he is supposed to be. Character is in himself, reputation is in the minds of others. Character is injured by temptations, and by wrongdoing; reputation by slanders, and libels. Character endures throughout defamation in every form, but perishes when there is a voluntary transgression; reputation may last through numerous transgressions, but be destroyed by a single, and even an unfounded, accusation or aspersion." Abbott.
Char"ac*ter transitive verb
imperfect & past participle Charactered
  1. To engrave; to inscribe. R.
    These trees shall be my books. And in their barks my thoughts I 'll character. Shak.
  2. To distinguish by particular marks or traits; to describe; to characterize. R. Mitford.

Webster 1913