character

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Middle English caracter, from Old French caractere, from Latin character, from Ancient Greek χαρακτήρ (kharaktēr, type, nature, character), from χαράσσω (kharassō, I engrave).

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˈkʰæɹəktɚ/, /ˈkʰɛɹəktɚ/
  • (file)

Noun[edit]

character (countable and uncountable, plural characters)

  1. A being involved in the action of a story.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 1, The Celebrity:
      The stories did not seem to me to touch life. […] They left me with the impression of a well-delivered stereopticon lecture, with characters about as life-like as the shadows on the screen, and whisking on and off, at the mercy of the operator.
    • 2012 April 26, Tasha Robinson, “Film: Reviews: The Pirates! Band Of Misfits”, The Onion AV Club:
      But Pirates! comes with all the usual Aardman strengths intact, particularly the sense that its characters and creators alike are too good-hearted and sweet to nitpick. The ambition is all in the craft rather than in the storytelling, but it’s hard to say no to the proficiency of that craft, or the mild good cheer behind it.
  2. A distinguishing feature; characteristic
  3. A complex of mental and ethical traits marking a person or a group.
    • Motley
      a man of [] thoroughly subservient character
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 3, The Celebrity:
      Now all this was very fine, but not at all in keeping with the Celebrity's character as I had come to conceive it. The idea that adulation ever cloyed on him was ludicrous in itself. In fact I thought the whole story fishy, and came very near to saying so.
    A study of the suspect's character and his cast iron alibi ruled him out.
  4. Strength of mind; resolution; independence; individuality; moral strength.
    He has a great deal of character.
    "You may not like to eat liver," said Calvin's father, "but it builds character."
  5. A unique or extraordinary individual; a person characterized by peculiar or notable traits, especially charisma.
    Julius Caesar is a great historical character.
    That bloke is such a character.
  6. A written or printed symbol, or letter.
    • Holder
      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.
  7. Style of writing or printing; handwriting; the particular form of letters used by a person or people.
    an inscription in the Runic character
    • Shakespeare
      You know the character to be your brother's?
  8. (computing) One of the basic elements making up a text file or string: a code representing a printing character or a control character.
  9. (informal) A person or individual, especially one who is unknown or raises suspicions.
    We saw a shady character slinking out of the office with some papers.
  10. (mathematics) A complex number representing an element of a finite Abelian group.
  11. Quality, position, rank, or capacity; quality or conduct with respect to a certain office or duty.
    in the miserable character of a slave
    in his character as a magistrate
  12. (dated) The estimate, individual or general, put upon a person or thing; reputation.
    a man's character for truth and veracity
    Her actions give her a bad character.
    • Addison
      This subterraneous passage is much mended since Seneca gave so bad a character of it.
  13. (dated) A reference given to a servant, attesting to his/her behaviour, competence, etc.

Usage notes[edit]

A comparison of character and reputation: 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.

Derived terms[edit]

Look at pages starting with character.

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Verb[edit]

character (third-person singular simple present characters, present participle charactering, simple past and past participle charactered)

  1. (obsolete) To write (using characters); To describe

See also[edit]

Statistics[edit]


Latin[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From the Ancient Greek χαρακτήρ (kharaktēr).

Noun[edit]

character m (genitive characteris); third declension

  1. branding iron
  2. brand (made by a branding iron)
  3. characteristic, mark, character, style

Inflection[edit]

Third declension.

Number Singular Plural
nominative character characterēs
genitive characteris characterum
dative characterī characteribus
accusative characterem characterēs
ablative charactere characteribus
vocative character characterēs

Descendants[edit]


Portuguese[edit]

Noun[edit]

character m (plural characteres)

  1. Obsolete spelling of caráter (used in Portugal until September 1911 and died out in Brazil during the 1920s).