Trait vs. Character: What's the Difference?
Trait refers to a specific quality or characteristic that distinguishes an individual, often inherent or acquired. Character is the aggregate of traits that form an individual's moral and ethical nature.
Trait is a specific characteristic, quality, or attribute that is inherent in an individual or developed over time. These can be physical, like eye color, or psychological, like being introverted. Character, on the other hand, is a broader term that encompasses the collection of traits that define a person’s ethical and moral standing. It shapes how a person interacts with the world and is a sum of various traits.
In grammatical terms, both "trait" and "character" function as nouns in American English. "Trait" is a countable noun, which means you can have one trait, two traits, and so forth. "Character" is both a countable and uncountable noun, depending on the context. As a countable noun, it refers to a person in a story, while as an uncountable noun, it refers to moral qualities.
A trait is usually more fixed and less likely to change. For example, a person may be born with a trait for musical ability. Character is often considered more malleable, shaped by life experiences and ethical choices. It is subject to change and development throughout a person's life.
Trait is often used in the study of genetics and psychology to explain patterns in behavior or physical attributes. Character is a term more commonly associated with ethics, literature, and moral philosophy. It deals with qualities like integrity, honesty, and courage, which are built on a combination of different traits.
A specific characteristic
Aggregate of moral traits
Countable and Uncountable noun
Generally more fixed
Field of Study
Narrower (single attribute)
Broader (collection of traits)
Trait and Character Definitions
A physical attribute.
His height is a dominant trait.
The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.
She is a person of good character.
A distinguishing quality or characteristic.
His most noticeable trait is his kindness.
The reputation of a person or thing.
The hotel has a character of luxury.
A psychological attribute.
Introversion is a personality trait.
The traits and features that form an individual.
His character is a blend of many traits.
An inherited feature.
Red hair is a genetic trait.
The combination of mental characteristics and behavior that distinguishes a person or group.
A specific behavioral pattern.
Her punctuality is a positive trait.
The distinguishing nature of something.
A distinguishing feature, as of a person's character.
Moral strength; integrity
An educational program designed to develop character.
A morphological, physiological, or behavioral feature of an organism.
Public estimation of someone; reputation
Personal attacks that damaged her character.
(Archaic) A short line or mark made with a writing or drawing implement.
(Biology) A structure, function, or attribute of an organism, influenced by genetic, environmental, and developmental factors.
An identifying characteristic, habit or trend.
The number one personality trait I hate is hypocrisy. Why can't you be consistent!?
A person considered as having a specific quality or attribute
"Being a man of the world and a public character, [he] took everything as a matter of course" (George Eliot).
(object-oriented) An uninstantiable collection of methods that provides functionality to a class by using the class’s own interface.
Traits are somewhat between an interface and a mixin.
A person considered funny or eccentric
Catcalls from some character in the back row.
A stroke; a touch.
By this single trait Homer makes an essential difference between the Iliad and Odyssey.
A person portrayed in an artistic piece, such as a drama or novel.
A distinguishing or marked feature; a peculiarity; as, a trait of character.
A person or animal portrayed with a personality in comics or animation
A cartoon character.
A distinguishing feature of your personal nature
Characterization in fiction or drama
A script that is weak in plot but strong in character.
Status or role; capacity
In his character as the father.
A description of a person's attributes, traits, or abilities.
A formal written statement as to competency and dependability, given by an employer to a former employee; a recommendation.
A mark or symbol used in a writing system.
A Chinese character.
One of a set of symbols, such as letters or numbers, that are arranged to express information.
The numerical code representing such a character.
(Mathematics) The trace function of a representation.
A style of printing or writing
"Here is the hand and seal of the Duke.
You know the character" (Shakespeare).
A cipher or code for secret writing.
Of or relating to one's character.
Specializing in the interpretation of often minor roles that emphasize fixed personality traits or specific physical characteristics
A character actor.
Of or relating to the interpretation of such roles by an actor
The character part of the hero's devoted mother.
Dedicated to the portrayal of a person with regard to distinguishing psychological or physical features
A character sketch.
To write, print, engrave, or inscribe.
To portray or describe; characterize.
(countable) A being involved in the action of a story.
(countable) A distinguishing feature; characteristic; trait; phene.
A single locus governing the petal colour character was detected on the linkage group A2.
A complex of traits marking a person, group, breed, or type.
A study of the suspect's character and his cast iron alibi ruled him out.
(uncountable) Strength of mind; resolution; independence; individuality; moral strength.
He has a great deal of character.
"You may not like to eat liver," said Calvin's father, "but it builds character."
(countable) A unique or extraordinary individual; a person characterized by peculiar or notable traits, especially charisma.
Julius Caesar is a great historical character.
That bloke is such a character.
(countable) A written or printed symbol, or letter.
Style of writing or printing; handwriting; the particular form of letters used by a person or people.
An inscription in the Runic character
A secret cipher; a way of writing in code.
One of the basic elements making up a text file or string: a code representing a printing character or a control character.
A person or individual, especially one who is unknown.
We saw a shady character slinking out of the office with some papers.
That old guy is a real character.
A complex number representing an element of a finite Abelian group.
(countable) Quality, position, rank, or capacity; quality or conduct with respect to a certain office or duty.
In the miserable character of a slave
In his character as a magistrate
The estimate, individual or general, put upon a person or thing; reputation.
A man's character for truth and veracity
Her actions give her a bad character.
A reference given to a servant, attesting to their behaviour, competence, etc.
(obsolete) To write (using characters); to describe.
A distinctive mark; a letter, figure, or symbol.
It were much to be wished that there were throughout the world but one sort of character for each letter to express it to the eye.
Style of writing or printing; handwriting; the peculiar form of letters used by a particular person or people; as, an inscription in the Runic character.
You know the character to be your brother's?
The peculiar quality, or the sum of qualities, by which a person or a thing is distinguished from others; the stamp impressed by nature, education, or habit; that which a person or thing really is; nature; disposition.
The character or that dominion.
Know well each Ancient's proper character;His fable, subject, scope in every page;Religion, Country, genius of his Age.
A man of . . . thoroughly subservient character.
Strength of mind; resolution; independence; individuality; as, he has a great deal of character.
Moral quality; the principles and motives that control the life; as, a man of character; his character saves him from suspicion.
Quality, position, rank, or capacity; quality or conduct with respect to a certain office or duty; as, in the miserable character of a slave; in his character as a magistrate; her character as a daughter.
The estimate, individual or general, put upon a person or thing; reputation; as, a man's character for truth and veracity; to give one a bad character.
This subterraneous passage is much mended since Seneca gave so bad a character of it.
A written statement as to behavior, competency, etc., given to a servant.
A unique or extraordinary individuality; a person characterized by peculiar or notable traits; a person who illustrates certain phases of character; as, Randolph was a character; Cæsar is a great historical character.
One of the persons of a drama or novel.
To engrave; to inscribe.
These trees shall be my books.And in their barks my thoughts I 'll character.
To distinguish by particular marks or traits; to describe; to characterize.
An imaginary person represented in a work of fiction (play or film or story);
She is the main character in the novel
A characteristic property that defines the apparent individual nature of something;
Each town has a quality all its own
The radical character of our demands
The inherent complex of attributes that determine a persons moral and ethical actions and reactions;
Education has for its object the formation of character
An actor's portrayal of someone in a play;
She played the part of Desdemona
A person of a specified kind (usually with many eccentricities);
A real character
A strange character
A friendly eccentric
The capable type
A mental case
He is a man of character
A formal recommendation by a former employer to a potential future employer describing the person's qualifications and dependability;
Requests for character references are all to often answered evasively
A written symbol that is used to represent speech;
The Greek alphabet has 24 characters
Engrave or inscribe characters on
A person in a novel, play, or movie.
The main character dies in the end.
A symbol in a writing system.
The dollar sign is a special character.
What is Character?
Character is the aggregate of moral and ethical traits of an individual.
Is Character a noun?
Yes, "character" is both a countable and uncountable noun in American English.
What is a Trait?
A trait is a specific characteristic or quality of an individual.
Is Trait related to genetics?
Traits can be genetic, like eye color, or acquired, like skills.
Is Trait a noun?
Yes, "trait" is a countable noun in American English.
Can Traits change?
Traits are generally more fixed and less likely to change.
Is Character innate?
Character is often shaped by life experiences and ethical choices.
How do Trait and Character differ?
A trait is a single attribute, while character is a collection of various traits.
What field studies Traits?
Traits are often studied in genetics and psychology.
Is Trait singular or plural?
"Trait" can be both singular ("one trait") and plural ("many traits").
Is Character always moral?
Generally, character refers to an individual’s moral and ethical nature.
Can Character change?
Character is considered more malleable and can change over time.
What field studies Character?
Character is often studied in ethics and literature.
Can Character refer to a story role?
Yes, as a countable noun, "character" refers to a person in a story.
Do Traits make up Character?
Yes, character is a collection of various traits.
Written bySawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited bySumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.