From Middle English caracter, from Old French caractere, from Latin character, from Ancient Greek χαρακτήρ (kharaktḗr, “type, nature, character”), from χαράσσω (kharássō, “I engrave”). Doublet of charakter.
character (countable and uncountable, plural characters)
- (countable) A being involved in the action of a story.
1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 1, in The Celebrity:
The stories did not seem to me to touch life. […] They left me with the impression of a well-delivered stereopticon lecture, with characters about as life-like as the shadows on the screen, and whisking on and off, at the mercy of the operator.
2012 April 26, Tasha Robinson, “Film: Reviews: The Pirates! Band Of Misfits”, in The Onion AV Club:
But Pirates! comes with all the usual Aardman strengths intact, particularly the sense that its characters and creators alike are too good-hearted and sweet to nitpick. The ambition is all in the craft rather than in the storytelling, but it’s hard to say no to the proficiency of that craft, or the mild good cheer behind it.
- (countable) A distinguishing feature; characteristic; trait; phene.
A single locus governing the petal colour character was detected on the linkage group A2.
- (uncountable, countable) A complex of traits marking a person, group, breed, or type.
- 1856, John Lothrop Motley, The Rise of the Dutch Republic
- A man of […] thoroughly subservient character
1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 3, in The Celebrity:
Now all this was very fine, but not at all in keeping with the Celebrity's character as I had come to conceive it. The idea that adulation ever cloyed on him was ludicrous in itself. In fact I thought the whole story fishy, and came very near to saying so.
A study of the suspect's character and his cast iron alibi ruled him out.
- (uncountable) Strength of mind; resolution; independence; individuality; moral strength.
He has a great deal of character.
"You may not like to eat liver," said Calvin's father, "but it builds character."
- (countable) A unique or extraordinary individual; a person characterized by peculiar or notable traits, especially charisma.
Julius Caesar is a great historical character.
That bloke is such a character.
- (countable) A written or printed symbol, or letter.
- 1669, William Holder, Elements of Speech
- It were much to be wished that there were throughout the world but one sort of character for each letter to express it to the eye.
- (countable, dated) Style of writing or printing; handwriting; the particular form of letters used by a person or people.
an inscription in the Runic character
c. 1603–1606, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of King Lear”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene ii]:
You know the character to be your brother's?
- (countable, dated) A secret cipher; a way of writing in code.
- (countable, computing) One of the basic elements making up a text file or string: a code representing a printing character or a control character.
- (countable, informal) A person or individual, especially one who is unknown or raises suspicions.
We saw a shady character slinking out of the office with some papers.
That old guy is a real character.
- (countable, mathematics) A complex number representing an element of a finite Abelian group.
- (countable) Quality, position, rank, or capacity; quality or conduct with respect to a certain office or duty.
in the miserable character of a slave
in his character as a magistrate
- (countable, dated) The estimate, individual or general, put upon a person or thing; reputation.
a man's character for truth and veracity
Her actions give her a bad character.
- 1705 (revised 1718), Joseph Addison, Remarks on Several Parts of Italy
- This subterraneous passage is much mended since Seneca gave so bad a character of it.
- (countable, dated) A reference given to a servant, attesting to their behaviour, competence, etc.
- (countable, obsolete) Personal appearance.
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.
Pages starting with “character”.
being in a story
- Arabic: شَخْصِيَّة (ar) f (šaḵṣiyya)
- Egyptian Arabic: شخصية f (šaḵṣeya), كراكتر m (karaktar)
- Armenian: գործող անձ (hy) (gorcoł anj), կերպար (hy) (kerpar)
- Asturian: personaxe m
- Azerbaijani: personaj
- Belarusian: персана́ж m (pjersanáž), геро́й m (hjerój), гераі́ня f (hjeraínja)
- Bulgarian: герой (bg) m (geroj), действащо лице n (dejstvašto lice)
- Catalan: personatge (ca) m
- Mandarin: 人物 (zh) (rénwù), 角色 (zh) (juésè, jiǎosè)
- Czech: postava (cs) f
- Danish: figur, rolle, person (da), personage c
- Dutch: personage (nl) n
- Esperanto: rolulo
- Estonian: karakter, tegelane
- Finnish: hahmo (fi), henkilöhahmo, henkilö (fi)
- French: personnage (fr) m
- Galician: personaxe m or f
- German: Figur (de) f, Person (de) f
- Greek: χαρακτήρας (el) m (charaktíras)
- Hebrew: דמות (he) f (dmut)
- Hindi: पात्र (hi) m (pātr)
- Hungarian: szereplő (hu)
- Icelandic: persóna (is)
- Indonesian: karakter (id), watak (id)
- Irish: pearsa f, carachtar m
- Italian: personaggio (it) m
- Japanese: 登場人物 (tōjōjinbutsu), キャラクター (ja) (kyarakutā)
- Kazakh: кейіпкер (keyipker)
- Korean: 등장인물 (ko) (deungjang-inmul), 캐릭터 (ko) (kaerikteo)
- Latgalian: īvaigs
- Latvian: tēls
- Lithuanian: veikėjas m, veikėja f
- Macedonian: лик m (lik)
- Malay: watak, karakter
- Malayalam: കഥാപാത്രം (ml) (kathāpātraṃ)
- Maori: kiripuaki
- Norwegian: karakter (no)
- Old English: hād m
- Persian: شخصیت (fa) (šaxsiyat), پرسوناژ (fa) (personâž), کاراکتر (fa) (kârâkter)
- Polish: postać (pl) f
- Portuguese: personagem (pt) m or f
- Romanian: personaj (ro) n
- Russian: персона́ж (ru) m (personáž), геро́й (ru) m (gerój), герои́ня (ru) f (geroínja), де́йствующее лицо́ n (déjstvujuščeje licó)
- Scots: chairacter
- Scottish Gaelic: caractar m
- Serbo-Croatian: karakter (sh) m, lik (sh) m
- Spanish: personaje (es) m
- Swedish: rollfigur (sv) c, karaktär (sv) c
- Tamil: பாத்திரம் (ta) (pāttiram)
- Thai: ตัวละคร (th) (dtuua-lá-kɔɔn)
- Turkish: karakter (tr), kişilik (tr)
- Ukrainian: персона́ж (uk) m (personáž), геро́й m (herój), герої́ня f (herojínja)
- Uzbek: personaj (uz)
- Vietnamese: nhân vật (vi)
- Walloon: persounaedje (wa) m
- Welsh: cymeriad (cy)
complex of mental and ethical traits marking a person or a group
notable or eccentric person
symbol for a sound or a word
- Arabic: حَرْف (ar) m (ḥarf), رَمْز (ar) m (ramz)
- Egyptian Arabic: حرف m (ḥarf), رمز m (ramz)
- Armenian: նշան (hy) (nšan)
- Asturian: caráuter m
- Belarusian: лі́тара f (lítara), знак (be) m (znak)
- Bulgarian: знак (bg) m (znak), си́мвол (bg) m (símvol)
- Burmese: အက္ခရာ (my) (akhka.ra)
- Catalan: caràcter (ca) m
- Mandarin: 符號 (zh), 符号 (zh) (fúhào), 字 (zh) (zì)
- Czech: znak (cs) m
- Danish: tegn (da)
- Dutch: karakter (nl) n
- Finnish: kirjain (fi), merkki (fi), kirjoitusmerkki (fi)
- French: caractère (fr) m
- Galician: carácter m
- German: Buchstabe (de) m, Zeichen (de) n, Schriftzeichen (de) n
- Greek: χαρακτήρας (el) m (charaktíras), γράμμα (el) n (grámma)
- Ancient: χαρακτήρ m (kharaktḗr)
- Gujarati: અંધારું (andhārũ)
- Hebrew: אוֹת (he) f (ot), תָּו (he) m (tav)
- Hindi: अक्षर (hi) m (akṣar)
- Hungarian: karakter (hu)
- Irish: carachtar m, litir (ga) f
- Italian: carattere (it) m
- Japanese: 記号 (ja) (きごう, kigō), 文字 (ja) (もじ, moji)
- Kannada: ಅಕ್ಷರ (kn) (akṣara)
- Korean: 문자 (ko) (munja), 기호 (ko) (giho), 글씨 (ko) (geulssi)
- Lao: ອັກສອນ (ʼak sǭn)
- Macedonian: знак m (znak)
- Malay: aksara
- Maori: pūāhua
- Bokmål: tegn (no) n
- Nynorsk: teikn n
- Old English: bocstæf m
- Persian: حرف (fa) (harf), نویسه (fa) (nevisa)
- Polish: znak (pl) m
- Portuguese: caractere (pt) m
- Russian: бу́ква (ru) f (búkva), си́мвол (ru) m (símvol), знак (ru) m (znak), иеро́глиф (ru) m (ijeróglif) (Chinese)
- Sanskrit: अक्षर (sa) n (akṣara)
- Scottish Gaelic: litir f
- Spanish: carácter (es) m
- Swedish: tecken (sv)
- Tajik: ҳарф (tg) (harf)
- Tamil: எழுத்து (ta) (eḻuttu)
- Telugu: అక్షరము (te) (akṣaramu)
- Thai: อักษร (th) (àk-sɔ̌ɔn)
- Turkish: harf (tr), sembol (tr), simge (tr)
- Ukrainian: лі́тера (uk) f (lítera), знак m (znak)
- Vietnamese: chữ (vi), kí tự
(computing) basic element in a text string
(informal) unknown or suspicious person
(mathematics) complex number
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
Translations to be checked
character (third-person singular simple present characters, present participle charactering, simple past and past participle charactered)
- (obsolete) To write (using characters); to describe.
c. 1598–1600, William Shakespeare, “As You Like It”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act II, scene vii]:
O Roſalind, theſe Trees ſhall be my Bookes,
And in their barkes my thoughts Ile charracter,
That euery eye, which in this Forreſt lookes,
Shall ſee thy vertue witneſt euery where.