Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!
Having or of an untrustworthy, dubious, or deceptive appearance. There are always a bunch of shifty-looking characters around this part of town at night, so let's not linger! I didn't feel great about the deal when John's shifty-looking business partner came along to sign the papers.
The initial and/or intended meaning or state of something, especially if it has changed over time. Please be sure to keep the original character of the statement you are paraphrasing. I have to translate this story, and I have no idea if I'm capturing its original character. The renovations were done in keeping with the original character of the building.
A deliberate attempt to destroy the reputation of a public figure by releasing, revealing, or creating defamatory or damaging information about them. The so-called expose on the senator is character assassination, pure and simple. Releasing those decades-old photos this late in the campaign amounts to character assassination—and it will probably work.
1. Very typical of the way someone would normally speak or behave; uncharacteristic. I've come to realize that the selfishness and nasty comments are all just in character for him. A: "The last time I saw her, she trying to hook up with Janet's boyfriend." B: "Yeah, that sounds in character, all right."
2. Consistent with the traits or characteristics assigned to the character that one plays. Don't be afraid, sweetie. Daddy's just in character—he's pretending to be a bad man for his movie! As part of his method acting, he remained in character for the full nine months of shooting.
out of character
1. Very unlike the way someone would normally speak or behave; uncharacteristic. That outburst was certainly out of character. Tom is usually very happy and laid back. I had no idea her grades were getting so low—that's so out of character for Jane.
2. Inconsistent with the traits or characteristics assigned to the character that one plays. She is a consummate professional. She didn't even go out of character when a part of the set collapsed halfway through the scene.
stay in character
To continue exhibiting the traits and characteristics assigned to the character that one plays. As part of his method acting, he remained in character for the full nine months of shooting.
saintly black character
In film and literature, a stock black character who exists solely to aid white characters, often through the use of magical powers or mystical intuition. Also known as the "Magical Negro." The Green Mile is often cited as a film that perpetuates the saintly black character trope.
1. The emotional impact, shape, or dynamic that a particular musical pitch provides. The subtle change in the pitch character changes the piece from one of hopefulness and peace to one of hesitation and sadness.
2. A fictional character, especially a cartoon person or animal, used to sell a product or say a particular line in an advertisement. The '80s saw the introduction of dozens of cheap pitch characters disguised regular cartoons telling kids to buy all sorts of breakfast cereal and plastic junk. Some of the most widely recognized cartoons started life as pitch characters for everything from cleaning products to cigarettes.
Fig. seriously harming someone's reputation. The review was more than a negative appraisal of his performance. It was total character assassination.
Fig. typical of someone's behavior. For Tom to shout that way wasn't at all in character. He's usually quite pleasant. It was quite in character for Sally to walk away angry.
out of character
1. unlike one's usual behavior. Ann's remark was quite out of character. It was out of character for Ann to act so stubborn.
2. inappropriate for the character that an actor is playing. Bill went out of character when the audience started giggling. Bill played the part so well that it was hard for him to get out of character after the performance.
shady characterand a suspicious character
Fig. an untrustworthy person; a person who makes people suspicious. There is a suspicious character lurking about in the hallway. Please call the police.
Consistent with someone's general personality or behavior. For example, Her failure to answer the invitation was completely in character. This usage dates from the mid-1700s, as does the antonym, out of character, as in It was out of character for him to refuse the assignment.
ˌin/ˌout of ˈcharacter(of somebody’s behaviour, etc.) of the kind you would/would not expect from them; characteristic/uncharacteristic: That unpleasant remark she made was quite out of character. ♢ ‘I’m sure it was Bill I saw from the bus. He was arguing with a police officer.’ ‘Well, that’s in character, anyway!’
Consistent with someone's general character or behavior: behavior that was totally in character.
out of character
Inconsistent with someone's general character or behavior: a response so much out of character that it amazed me.