Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


The unaccountable change in Eudora's character perplexed and troubled her.

But I have a secret dread of the character and power of Alcibiades.

You shall now, if I have misapprehended you not, develop a new strongness of the character.

I have been acquainted with her character and actions for several years.

Connected with this subject is the character of the currency.

We must support our rights or lose our character, and with it, perhaps, our liberties.

It is a negative power, and is conservative in its character.

This impenetrableness, my dear, is to be put among the shades in his character.

His character was so open, that I did not need to correct my original conception of it.

He well knew the character of all the white men of the party.


mid-14c., carecter, "symbol marked or branded on the body;" mid-15c., "symbol or drawing used in sorcery," from Old French caratere "feature, character" (13c., Modern French caractère), from Latin character, from Greek kharakter "engraved mark," also "symbol or imprint on the soul," also "instrument for marking," from kharassein "to engrave," from kharax "pointed stake," from PIE root *gher- "to scrape, scratch." Meaning extended in ancient times by metaphor to "a defining quality."

Meaning "sum of qualities that define a person" is from 1640s. Sense of "person in a play or novel" is first attested 1660s, in reference to the "defining qualities" he or she is given by the author. Meaning "a person" in the abstract is from 1749; especially "eccentric person" (1773). Colloquial sense of "chap, fellow" is from 1931. The Latin ch- spelling was restored from 1500s. Character actor attested from 1861; character assassination from 1888; character-building (n.) from 1886.


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.