American English

Definition of character noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[countable, usually singular] all the qualities and features that make a person, groups of people, and places different from others to have a strong/weak character character traits/defects The book gives a fascinating insight into Mrs. Obama's character. Generosity is part of the American character. The character of the neighborhood hasn't changed at all.
  2. 2[countable, usually singular, uncountable] the way that something is, or a particular quality or feature that a thing, an event, or a place has synonym nature the delicate character of the light in the evening The police pointed out the illegal character of the demonstration. buildings that are very simple in character
  3. 3[uncountable] (approving) strong personal qualities such as the ability to deal with difficult or dangerous situations Everyone admires her strength of character and determination. He showed great character returning to the sport after his accident. Adventure camps are considered character-building (= meant to improve someone's strong qualities).
  4. 4[uncountable] (usually approving) the interesting or unusual quality that a place or a person has The modern hotels here have no real character. a face with a lot of character
  5. strange/interesting person
  6. 5[countable] (informal) (used with an adjective) a person, particularly an unpleasant or strange one There were some really strange characters hanging around the bar.
  7. 6[countable] (informal) an interesting or unusual person She's a real character!
  8. reputation
  9. 7[countable, uncountable] (formal) the opinion that people have of you, particularly of whether you can be trusted or relied on She was a victim of character assassination (= an unfair attack on the good opinion people had of her). an attack on his character My teacher agreed to be a character witness for me in court. a character reference (= a letter that a person who knows you well writes to an employer to tell them about your good qualities)
  10. in book/play/movie
  11. 8[countable] a person or an animal in a book, play, or movie a major/minor character in the book cartoon characters Clint Eastwood's character is the most sympathetic in the movie. Topic CollocationsLiteraturebeing a writer write/publish literature/poetry/fiction/a book/a story/a poem/a novel/a review/an autobiography become a writer/novelist/playwright find/have a publisher/an agent have a new book out edit/revise/proofread a book/text/manuscript dedicate a book/poem to…plot, character, and atmosphere construct/create/weave/weave something into a complex narrative advance/drive the plot introduce/present the protagonist/a character describe/depict/portray a character (as…)/(somebody as) a hero/villain create an exciting/a tense atmosphere build/heighten the suspense/tension evoke/capture the pathos of the situation convey emotion/an idea/an impression/a sense of… engage the reader seize/capture/grip the (reader's) imagination arouse/elicit emotion/sympathy (in the reader) lack imagination/emotion/structure/rhythmlanguage, style, and imagery use/employ language/imagery/humor/an image/a symbol/a metaphor/a device use/adopt/develop a style/technique be rich in/be full of symbolism evoke images of…/a sense of…/a feeling of… create/achieve an effect maintain/lighten the tone introduce/develop an idea/a theme inspire a novel/a poet/somebody's work/somebody's imaginationreading and criticism read an author/somebody's work/fiction/poetry/a text/an article/a poem/a novel/a chapter/a passage review an article/a book/a novel/somebody's work give something/get/have/receive a good/bad review be hailed (as)/be recognized as a masterpiece quote a phrase/a line/a stanza/a passage/an author provoke/spark discussion/criticism study/interpret/understand a text/passage translate somebody's work/a text/a passage/a novel/a poem
  12. symbol/letter
  13. 9[countable] a letter, sign, mark, or symbol used in writing, printing, or on computers Chinese characters a line 30 characters long optical character recognition
  14. Idioms
    in character, out of character
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    typical/not typical of a person's character Her behavior last night was completely out of character.
    in character (with something)
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    in the same style as something synonym keeping The new wing of the museum was not really in character with the rest of the building.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: character