char ‧ ac ‧ ter S1 W1 /ˈkærəktə, ˈkærɪktə $ -ər/ BrE AmE noun
[ Word Family: noun : ↑ character , ↑ characteristic , ↑ characterization ; adjective : ↑ characteristic ≠ ↑ uncharacteristic , ↑ characterless ; verb : ↑ characterize ; adverb : ↑ characteristically ≠ ↑ uncharacteristically ]
[ Date: 1300-1400 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: caractere , from Latin character 'mark, particular quality' , from Greek , from charassein 'to make a mark in a surface' ]
1 . ALL SB’S QUALITIES [countable usually singular] the particular combination of qualities that makes someone a particular type of person ⇨ characteristic :
He has a cheerful but quiet character.
Children grow up with a mixture of character traits (=character qualities) from both sides of their family.
his temper and other character flaws (=bad qualities)
in character/out of character (=typical or untypical of someone’s character)
He swore, which was out of character for him.
the English/French etc character
Openness is at the heart of the American character.
character sketch (=a description of someone’s character)
2 . PERSON [countable]
a) a person in a book, play, film etc:
Candida is the most interesting character in the play.
In the story, the main character has left his girlfriend and baby.
Everyone recognizes Disney’s cartoon characters.
b) a person of a particular type, especially a strange or dishonest one:
a couple of shady characters standing on the corner
I’m considered a reformed character these days (=someone who has stopped doing bad things) .
c) an interesting and unusual person:
Linda was something of a character.
3 . QUALITIES OF SOMETHING [singular, uncountable] the particular combination of features and qualities that makes a thing or place different from all others SYN nature
The whole character of the school has changed.
the unspoilt character of the coast
The southern state became more nationalist in character.
4 . MORAL STRENGTH [uncountable] a combination of qualities such as courage, loyalty, and honesty that are admired and regarded as valuable:
a woman of great character
Schools were created to teach reading and mathematics, not moral character.
It takes strength of character to admit you are wrong.
Sport can be character building (=develop good moral qualities) .
5 . INTERESTING QUALITY [uncountable] a quality that makes someone or something special and interesting:
a red wine with a meaty character
suburban houses that lack character
6 . REPUTATION [uncountable] formal the opinion that people have about whether you are a good person and can be trusted:
a man of previous good character
The campaign was accused of character assassination (=an unfair attack on someone’s character) because of its negative ads.
His defence called several people as character witnesses (=people who think that someone has a good character) .
Mr Wetherby wrote him a character reference (=a statement about his good qualities) .
7 . LETTER/SIGN [countable] a letter, mark, or sign used in writing, printing, or on a computer:
the Chinese character for ‘horse’
• • •
COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2A)
■ ADJECTIVES/NOUN + character
▪ the main/central/leading character
Alec is the central character in the play.
▪ the lead character (=in a play, film, or television series)
DiCaprio played the lead character in Titanic.
▪ a minor character
Two of the minor characters get killed.
▪ a television/movie/cartoon character
Who’s your favourite television character?
▪ a comic/tragic character (=a funny or sad one)
Homer Simpson is a great comic character.
▪ fictional/fictitious (=not existing in real life)
People sometimes forget that television characters are fictional.
▪ convincing (=seeming like a real person)
The characters were totally convincing.
▪ a sympathetic character (=one you like)
In the book, Jeff isn’t a sympathetic character.
▪ play a character
I wanted to play the character of Danny.
▪ portray a character (=show one in a play, book, film etc)
The main characters are brilliantly portrayed.
▪ develop a character (=make a character become more interesting)
The movie didn’t develop his character as well as the book did.
▪ character development (=the process of developing characters)
I thought the plot was boring and there wasn’t much character development.
▪ a character actor (=an actor who plays interesting or unusual characters)
He’s a well-known character actor.