from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The combination of qualities or features that distinguishes one person, group, or thing from another. See Synonyms at disposition.
  • n. A distinguishing feature or attribute, as of an individual, group, or category. See Synonyms at quality.
  • n. Genetics A structure, function, or attribute determined by a gene or group of genes.
  • n. Moral or ethical strength.
  • n. A description of a person's attributes, traits, or abilities.
  • n. A formal written statement as to competency and dependability, given by an employer to a former employee; a recommendation.
  • n. Public estimation of someone; reputation: personal attacks that damaged her character.
  • n. Status or role; capacity: in his character as the father.
  • n. A notable or well-known person; a personage.
  • n. A person, especially one who is peculiar or eccentric: a shady character; catcalls from some character in the back row.
  • n. A person portrayed in an artistic piece, such as a drama or novel.
  • n. Characterization in fiction or drama: a script that is weak in plot but strong in character.
  • n. A mark or symbol used in a writing system.
  • n. Computer Science One of a set of symbols, such as letters or numbers, that are arranged to express information.
  • n. Computer Science The numerical code representing such a character.
  • n. A style of printing or writing.
  • n. A symbol used in secret writing; a cipher or code.
  • adj. Of or relating to one's character.
  • adj. Specializing in the interpretation of often minor roles that emphasize fixed personality traits or specific physical characteristics: a character actor.
  • adj. Of or relating to the interpretation of such roles by an actor: the character part of the hero's devoted mother.
  • adj. Dedicated to the portrayal of a person with regard to distinguishing psychological or physical features: a character sketch.
  • adj. Law Of or relating to a person who gives testimony as to the moral and ethical reputation or behavior of one engaged in a lawsuit: a character witness.
  • transitive v. Archaic To write, print, engrave, or inscribe.
  • transitive v. Archaic To portray or describe.
  • idiom in character Consistent with someone's general character or behavior: behavior that was totally in character.
  • idiom out of character Inconsistent with someone's general character or behavior: a response so much out of character that it amazed me.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A being involved in the action of a story.
  • n. A written or printed symbol, or letter
  • n. A distinguishing feature; characteristic; A complex of mental and ethical traits marking a person or a group.
  • n. A moral strength.
  • n. A person with many notable or eccentric features.
  • n. A complex number representing an element of a finite Abelian group.
  • n. One of the basic elements making up a text file or string: a code representing a printing character or a control character.
  • n. A person or individual, especially one who is unknown or raises suspicions.
  • v. To write (using characters); To describe

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A distinctive mark; a letter, figure, or symbol.
  • n. Style of writing or printing; handwriting; the peculiar form of letters used by a particular person or people.
  • n. The peculiar quality, or the sum of qualities, by which a person or a thing is distinguished from others; the stamp impressed by nature, education, or habit; that which a person or thing really is; nature; disposition.
  • n. Strength of mind; resolution; independence; individuality.
  • n. Moral quality; the principles and motives that control the life.
  • n. Quality, position, rank, or capacity; quality or conduct with respect to a certain office or duty.
  • n. The estimate, individual or general, put upon a person or thing; reputation.
  • n. A written statement as to behavior, competency, etc., given to a servant.
  • n. A unique or extraordinary individuality; a person characterized by peculiar or notable traits; a person who illustrates certain phases of character.
  • n. One of the persons of a drama or novel.
  • transitive v. To engrave; to inscribe.
  • transitive v. To distinguish by particular marks or traits; to describe; to characterize.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To engrave; inscribe; write.
  • To ascribe a certain character to; characterize; describe.
  • To give expression to, as mental qualities to the countenance.
  • n. A mark made by cutting, stamping, or engraving, as on stone, metal, or other hard material; hence, a mark or figure, written or printed, and used to communicate thought, as in the formation of words; a letter, figure, or sign.
  • n. Hence The peculiar form or style of letters used by a particular person; handwriting; any system of written, engraved, or printed symbols employed by a particular race or nation of people to record or communicate thought: as, the Greek character; the Runic character; the Hebrew character.
  • n. A cipher.
  • n. A distinguishing mark or characteristic; any one of the properties or qualities which serve to distinguish one person or thing from others; a peculiarity by which a thing may be recognized, described, and classified.
  • n. The combination of properties, qualities, or peculiarities which distinguishes one person or thing, or one group of persons or things, from others; specifically, the sum of the inherited and acquired ethical traits which give to a person his moral individuality.
  • n. The moral qualities assigned to a person by repute; the estimate attached to an individual by the community in which he lives; good or bad reputation, standing: as, a character for veracity or mendacity.
  • n. Specifically Good qualities, or the reputation of possessing them; good reputation: as, a man of worth and character.
  • n. The qualities, course of action, or rôle appropriate to a given person, station in life, profession, etc.
  • n. Strongly marked distinctive qualities of any kind: as, a man with a great deal of character.
  • n. An account or statement of the qualities or peculiarities of a person or thing; specifically, an oral or a written statement with regard to the standing or qualifications of any one, as a servant or an employee.
  • n. A person; a personage: as, the noble characters of ancient history; a disreputable character; specifically, one of the persons represented in a drama, or in fiction.
  • n. A person of marked peculiarities; an odd person: used absolutely: as, he was a character.
  • n. A stamp or representation; type.
  • n. Hence— Appropriate; fitting.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. engrave or inscribe characters on
  • n. an actor's portrayal of someone in a play
  • n. a formal recommendation by a former employer to a potential future employer describing the person's qualifications and dependability
  • n. (genetics) an attribute (structural or functional) that is determined by a gene or group of genes
  • n. good repute
  • n. the inherent complex of attributes that determines a persons moral and ethical actions and reactions
  • n. an imaginary person represented in a work of fiction (play or film or story)
  • n. a person of a specified kind (usually with many eccentricities)
  • n. a written symbol that is used to represent speech
  • n. a characteristic property that defines the apparent individual nature of something


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English carecter, distinctive mark, imprint on the soul, from Old French caractere, from Latin charactēr, from Greek kharaktēr, from kharassein, to inscribe, from kharax, kharak-, pointed stick.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English caracter, from Old French caractere, from Latin character, from Ancient Greek χαρακτήρ (kharaktēr, "type, nature, character"), from χαράσσω (kharassō, "I engrave").


  • A quibble about your WiR framing: I think that the two functional definitions of WiR are where a female character is killed and/or depowered, thereby taking her out of the power fantasy sandbox for writers to play with and readers to enjoy, and/or as you pointed out, harming a female to get a reaction from a male _character_.

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  • Also with contentus; as, -- fortūnā amīcī gaudeō, _I rejoice at the fortune of my friend (i.e. on account of it_); victōriā suā glōriantur, _they exult over their victory_; nātūrā locī cōnfīdēbant, _they trusted in the character of their country_ (lit. _were confident on account of the character_).a. fīdō and cōnfīdō always take the Dative of the person (§ 187, II, a); sometimes the Dative of the thing.

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  • North Carolina is dear to him -- on the comfort, 'character and feelings,' of her _white_ citizens he sets a high value; he feels too, most deeply for the _character of the Press_ of North Carolina, sees that it is a city set on a hill, and implores his brethren of the editorial corps to 'set an example' of courtesy and magnanimity worthy of imitation and praise.

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  • A letter from the alphabet.

    February 26, 2012

  • I'd call that "restraint", rather than character.

    December 30, 2010

  • “character is the ability to inhibit instinctive impulses in accordance with a regulative principle.” That is, there is a time and place for expressiveness, but it must be regulated in terms of internal guides such as goals and ideals.

    December 30, 2010