: Middle English caracter, from Middle French caractère, from Latin character mark, distinctive quality, from Greek charaktEr, from charassein to scratch, engrave; perhaps akin to Lithuanian
zeyti to scratch
Date: 14th century
1 a : a conventionalized graphic device placed on an object as an indication of ownership, origin, or relationship b : a graphic symbol (as a hieroglyph or alphabet letter) used in writing or printing c : a magical or astrological emblem d : ALPHABET e (1) : WRITING, PRINTING (2) : style of writing or printing (3) : CIPHER f : a symbol (as a letter or number) that represents information; also : a representation of such a character that may be accepted by a computer
2 a : one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual b (1) : a feature used to separate distinguishable things into categories; also : a group or kind so separated (2) : the detectable expression of the action of a gene or group of genes (3) : the aggregate of distinctive qualities characteristic of a breed, strain, or type c : the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person, group, or nation d : main or essential nature especially as strongly marked and serving to distinguish "excess sewage gradually changed the character of the lake"
3 : POSITION, CAPACITY
4 : REPUTATION
5 : moral excellence and firmness "a man of sound character"
6 a : a person marked by notable or conspicuous traits "quite a character" b : one of the persons of a drama or novel c : the personality or part which an actor recreates d : characterization especially in drama or fiction e : PERSON, INDIVIDUAL "some character just stole her purse"
7 : a short literary sketch of the qualities of a social type
synonym see DISPOSITION, QUALITY, TYPE