Meaning of CHARACTERISTIC in English


I. char ‧ ac ‧ ter ‧ is ‧ tic 1 S3 W2 /ˌkærəktəˈrɪstɪk◂, ˌkærɪktəˈrɪstɪk◂/ BrE AmE noun [countable usually plural]

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ character , ↑ characteristic , ↑ characterization ; adjective : ↑ characteristic ≠ ↑ uncharacteristic , ↑ characterless ; verb : ↑ characterize ; adverb : ↑ characteristically ≠ ↑ uncharacteristically ]

a quality or feature of something or someone that is typical of them and easy to recognize

characteristic of

a baby discovering the physical characteristics of objects

defining/distinguishing characteristic (=one that separates someone or something from others of the same type)

Violent images are a defining characteristic of his work.

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■ adjectives

▪ a physical characteristic

physical characteristics such as your height and weight

▪ a personal characteristic (=relating to someone’s character)

What are the personal characteristics that a leader requires?

▪ a human characteristic

The power of speech is an entirely human characteristic.

▪ a national characteristic (=typical of the people of a country)

Organization is often seen as a German national characteristic.

▪ the main characteristic of something

A new interest in art was one of the main characteristics of this period.

▪ a common characteristic (=that people or things share)

Successful firms tend to have common characteristics.

▪ a distinguishing/distinctive characteristic (=separating someone or something from others of the same type)

The blue feathers are the distinguishing characteristic of the male bird.

▪ a defining characteristic (=one that is necessary in order to be a particular type of person or thing)

Originality is one of the defining characteristics of a great band.

▪ an important/essential characteristic

An essential characteristic of good teaching is that it must create interest in the learner.

▪ an inherited characteristic

Intelligence is an inherited characteristic.

▪ a striking characteristic

Its canals are one of Amsterdam’s most striking characteristics.

■ verbs

▪ have a characteristic ( also possess a characteristic formal )

He has all the characteristics of a great husband.

▪ show a characteristic ( also exhibit a characteristic formal )

A material may exhibit the characteristics of both a liquid and a solid.

▪ share a characteristic

The group shared one characteristic - they were all under 25.

▪ inherit a characteristic (=get a characterstic from your parent)

We all inherit physical characteristics from our parents.

• • •


▪ characteristic something that is typical of someone or something and makes them easy to recognize:

He had several characteristics which made him different to the rest of his family.


the physical characteristics of the brain


He studied the special characteristics of adult speech addressed to children.

▪ quality a characteristic of a person, especially a good one such as kindness or intelligence:

Tina has a lot of good qualities.


I’m not sure about his leadership qualities.


Obedience is a quality that my father admires.

▪ feature an important or interesting characteristic of something:

it seems to be a feature of modern society that we tend to judge ourselves by our work above everything else.


A curious feature of the novel is the absence of women.


The building still has many of its original features.

▪ property [usually plural] technical a characteristic of a substance or object, for example hardness or elasticity, or how it behaves - used especially in scientific contexts:

We examined the physical properties of various metals.


changes in the electrical properties of cells


Some plants have healing properties.

▪ attribute formal a good or useful characteristic:

I suspected I probably did not quite possess all the attributes required to succeed at the highest level.


All living things are able to reproduce their kind, an attribute which no machine possesses..

▪ good/bad points good or bad characteristics – used when someone or something has both good and bad characteristics:

The seller will obviously emphasize the car’s good points.


Draw up a list of your partner’s good and bad points.

II. characteristic 2 BrE AmE adjective

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ character , ↑ characteristic , ↑ characterization ; adjective : ↑ characteristic ≠ ↑ uncharacteristic , ↑ characterless ; verb : ↑ characterize ; adverb : ↑ characteristically ≠ ↑ uncharacteristically ]

very typical of a particular thing or of someone’s character:

the highly characteristic (=very typical) flint walls of the local houses

characteristic of

the qualities that were characteristic of the Nixon administration

—characteristically /-kli/ adverb

• • •


In everyday English, people usually say typical rather than characteristic :

The building is typical of those in the area.

• • •


▪ typical a typical person or thing is a good example of that type of person or thing:

With his camera around his neck, he looked like a typical tourist.


The windows are typical of houses built during this period.

▪ classic used to describe a very typical and very good example of something:

It was a classic case of the cure being worse than the disease.


a classic mistake


The book is a classic example of great teamwork.

▪ archetypal the archetypal person or thing is the most typical example of that kind of person or thing, and has all their most important qualities:

the archetypal English village


Indiana Jones is the archetypal adventure hero.

▪ quintessential used when you want to emphasize that someone or something is the very best example of something – used especially when you admire them very much:

the quintessential guide to New York


Robert Plant is the quintessential rock ‘n’ roll singer.

▪ stereotypical having the characteristics that many people believe a particular type of person or thing has – used when you think these beliefs are not true:

Hollywood films are full of stereotypical images of women as wives and mothers.


He challenges stereotypical ideas about people with disabilities.

▪ representative containing the most common types of people or things that are found in something, and showing what it is usually like:

a representative sample of college students

▪ characteristic very typical of a particular type of thing, or of someone’s character or usual behaviour:

Each species of bird has its own characteristic song.


What gives Paris its characteristic charm?


He played with his characteristic skill.


the characteristic symptoms of the disease

▪ be the epitome of something to be the best possible example of a particular type of person or thing or of a particular quality:

His house was thought to be the epitome of good taste.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.