verb (used with object), char·ac·ter·ized, char·ac·ter·iz·ing.
- to mark or distinguish as a characteristic; be a characteristic of: Rich metaphors characterize his poetry.
- to describe the character or individual quality of: He characterized her in a few well-chosen words.
- to attribute character to: to characterize him as a coward.
- to be a characteristic ofloneliness characterized the place
- to distinguish or mark as a characteristic
- to describe or portray the character of
v.1590s, “to engrave, write,” back-formation from characterization, or else from Medieval Latin characterizare, from Greek kharakterizein “to designate by a characteristic mark,” from kharakter (see character). Meaning “to describe the qualities of” is recorded from 1630s; that of “to be characteristic” is from 1744. Related: Characterized; characterizing.