characteristic

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Ancient Greek χαρακτηριστικός (kharaktēristikós), from χαρακτηρίζω (kharaktērízō, to designate by a characteristic mark), from χαρακτήρ (kharaktḗr, a mark, character).

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˌkʰæɹəktəˈɹɪstɪk/
  • (file)

Adjective[edit]

characteristic (comparative more characteristic, superlative most characteristic)

  1. Being a distinguishing feature of a person or thing.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 12, The Mirror and the Lamp:
      All this was extraordinarily distasteful to Churchill. It was ugly, gross. Never before had he felt such repulsion when the vicar displayed his characteristic bluntness or coarseness of speech. In the present connexion […] such talk had been distressingly out of place.

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Noun[edit]

characteristic (plural characteristics)

  1. a distinguishable feature of a person or thing
  2. (mathematics) the integer part of a logarithm
  3. (nautical) the distinguishing features of a navigational light on a lighthouse etc by which it can be identified (colour, pattern of flashes etc)
  4. (algebra, field theory) The minimum number of times that the unit of a field must be added unto itself in order to yield that field's zero, or, if that minimum natural number does not exist, then (the integer) zero.
    A field's characteristic, if non-zero, must be a prime number.

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