Definition: Character

From New World Encyclopedia
(Redirected from Character)


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


character (countable and uncountable, plural characters)

  1. A being involved in the action of a story.
    Dorothy is the main character in several of L. Frank Baum's books.
  2. A distinguishing feature; characteristic; trait; phene.
    A single locus governing the petal color character was detected on the linkage group A2.
  3. A complex of traits marking a person, group, breed, or type.
    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.
  5. A unique or extraordinary individual; a person characterized by peculiar or notable traits, especially charisma.
    Julius Caesar is a great historical character.
  6. A written or printed symbol, or letter.
    I was allowed to type 66 characters on a line.
  7. (computing) One of the basic elements making up a text file or string: a code representing a printing character or a control character.
    Before I started learning computer programming, I had memorized all of the ASCII values for the characters commonly used in the English language, and a few European ones.
  8. (mathematics) A complex number representing an element of a finite Abelian group.
  9. Quality, position, rank, or capacity; quality or conduct with respect to a certain office or duty.

Usage notes

Character is sometimes used interchangeably with reputation, but the two words have different meanings; character describes the distinctive qualities of an individual or group while reputation describes the opinions held by others regarding an individual or group. Character is internal and authentic, while reputation is external and perceived.

Derived terms

  • break character
  • breakout character
  • cartoon character
  • character actor
  • characteristic
  • characterization
  • characterize
  • character study
  • character trait
  • Chinese character
  • dominant character
  • Hebrew character
  • lead character
  • main character
  • player character
  • staple character
  • stock character


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