Difference between characteristic, character, personality and trait

by Hoang Yen
(Viet nam)

What is the difference between characteristic, character, personality and trait?

Ok, lets look at the definitions and then we can look at using them in context.

Characteristic: a distinguishing feature or quality: Generosity is his chief characteristic. A feature that helps to identify, tell apart, or describe recognizably; a distinguishing mark or trait.

Trait: a distinguishing characteristic or quality, especially of one's personal nature.

Character: the group of features, traits and characteristics that form the individual nature of some person or thing.

Personality: the essential character of a person or the visible aspect of one's character as it impresses others.

First, you will notice that Characteristic and Trait are very similar; character and personality are also very similar.

If you think about it, characteristics and traitssingular aspects of how a person is perceived.

Character and personality are combinations or groupings of traits and characteristics that define how a person is.

In context examples

  • It is difficult to describe his personality. He is caring but sometimes indifferent; responsible and yet reckless but most of all he has a good heart.

  • It is hard to define my best personal trait as an English teacher. Maybe my personality as a whole is what makes me a good teacher. Or maybe it is my sense of humor. People say that a good sense of humor is a useful trait.

  • For this job it would be best to find someone with the following traits: hard working, responsible, reliable and a team player.

  • It was his characteristic sense of humor that got him the job.
    I hope that helps you understand the difference between these words better Hoang Yen.

    Have a great day!


  • Comments for Difference between characteristic, character, personality and trait

    Click here to add your own comments

    Jan 14, 2015
    by: Anonymous

    Thanks, but if you give a better explanation, it is better because your explanation is good for native people not for foreigners that don't know anything about English or their knowledge is too low level.

    If you talk very clearly and very easily, you will do the best job.

    Thank you for your constructive criticism ________ (you didn't say you name). I understand what you are saying, but on the other hand this website (when I first started it) was made for everyone...all learners...which I now see was a mistake.

    I specialise in working with business executives and applying English to real life situations. Most of my students have a B1 or B2.2 level and that is reflected in how I write on the website.

    I do understand though and I will keep that in mind for the future.


    Nov 09, 2014
    Nice explanation.
    by: Allison

    Very helpful. Thank you =)

    Oct 17, 2012
    by: barbra

    thank you at least I got the difference between these three words.

    Oct 25, 2011
    by: Min 00

    Thank You. I really needed to clear the meaning for a research proposal~! u saved me tons of surfing time.

    Oct 21, 2011
    thank you
    by: Anonymous

    thank you. clear and understandable.

    Feb 28, 2011
    by: Mardiyah

    Thank you, I have understood .. :)

    Oct 28, 2010
    Vesperinnah's coment about this question
    by: Anonymous

    Thanks. You made me lost!!! Great job, although you need to use smaller words and maybe i'll get it. LOL

    Love vesperinnah
    p.s Smaller words please!

    Jun 22, 2010
    by: cyrel ocfemia

    your explanations are great....

    Dec 07, 2009
    by: Amanda

    thanks for letting me understand the difference between these two words. Thanks Bye!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Click here to add your own comments

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