[ kar-ik-tuh-ris-tik ]
/ ˌkær ɪk təˈrɪs tɪk /


Also char·ac·ter·is·ti·cal. pertaining to, constituting, or indicating the character or peculiar quality of a person or thing; typical; distinctive: Red and gold are the characteristic colors of autumn.


a distinguishing feature or quality: Generosity is his chief characteristic.
  1. the integral part of a common logarithm.Compare mantissa.
  2. the exponent of 10 in a number expressed in scientific notation.
  3. the smallest positive integer n such that each element of a given ring added to itself n times results in 0.

Origin of characteristic

From the Greek word charaktēristikós, dating back to 1655–65. See character, -istic

OTHER WORDS FROM characteristic

Example sentences from the Web for characteristic

British Dictionary definitions for characteristic

/ (ˌkærɪktəˈrɪstɪk) /


a distinguishing quality, attribute, or trait
  1. the integral part of a common logarithm, indicating the order of magnitude of the associated numberthe characteristic of 2.4771 is 2 Compare mantissa
  2. another name for exponent, used esp in number representation in computing


indicative of a distinctive quality, etc; typical

Derived forms of characteristic

characteristically, adverb

Medical definitions for characteristic

[ kăr′ək-tə-rĭstĭk ]


A distinguishing feature or attribute; character.
A structure or function determined by a gene or genes; trait.

Other words from characteristic

char′ac•ter•istic adj.

Scientific definitions for characteristic

[ kăr′ək-tə-rĭstĭk ]

The part of a logarithm to the base 10 that is to the left of the decimal point. For example, if 2.749 is a logarithm, 2 is the characteristic. Compare mantissa.