1. 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.


  1. a distinguishing feature or quality: Generosity is his chief characteristic.
  2. Mathematics.
    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.


  1. a distinguishing quality, attribute, or trait
  2. maths
    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


  1. indicative of a distinctive quality, etc; typical

adjective and noun both first attested 1660s, from character + -istic on model of Greek kharakteristikos. Earlier in the adjectival sense was characteristical (1620s). Related: Characteristically (1640s). Characteristics “distinctive traits” also attested from 1660s.


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

  1. 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.

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