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From Medieval Latin characterizare, from Ancient Greek χαρακτηρίζω (kharaktērízō, to designate by a characteristic mark), from χαρακτήρ (kharaktḗr, a mark, character). Synchronically analyzable as character +‎ -ize.



characterize (third-person singular simple present characterizes, present participle characterizing, simple past and past participle characterized)

  1. (transitive) To depict someone or something a particular way (often negative).
  2. (transitive) To be typical of.
    • 1980, Robert M. Jones, editor, Walls and Ceilings, Time-Life Books, →ISBN, page 82:
      There is no way to avoid the slight cups, crooks, bows and twists that characterize wood.
  3. (transitive) To determine the characteristics of.
    • 1998, Brian Voigt, “Glossary of Coastal Terminology”, in Department of Ecology Publication No. 98-105[1]:
      This glossary includes terminology used in coastal science, engineering, geology, management, nearshore oceanography and the technologies that characterize, measure, describe or quantify the physical properties, processes and changes of the coastal zone.

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