Being a feature that helps to distinguish a person or thing; distinctive: heard my friend's characteristic laugh; the stripes that are characteristic of the zebra.
1. A feature that helps to identify, tell apart, or describe recognizably; a distinguishing mark or trait.
2. Mathematics The integral part of a logarithm as distinguished from the mantissa: The characteristic of the logarithm 6.3214 is 6.
3. Mathematics The least number of times the multiplicative identity in a ring needs to be added to itself to reach the additive identity, or, if the additive identity is never reached, zero. The integers have a characteristic of zero; the integers modulo 12 have a characteristic of 12.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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