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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.

original character

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.
See also: character

character assassination

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.
See also: character

in character

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.
See also: character

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.
See also: character, of, out

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.
See also: character, stay

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.
See also: black, character

character assassination

Fig. seriously harming someone's reputation. The review was more than a negative appraisal of his performance. It was total character assassination.
See also: character

in character

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.
See also: character

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.
See also: character, of, out

shady character

 and 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.
See also: character, shady

in character

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.
See also: character

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!’
See also: character, of, out

in character

Consistent with someone's general character or behavior: behavior that was totally in character.
See also: character

out of character

Inconsistent with someone's general character or behavior: a response so much out of character that it amazed me.
See also: character, of, out
References in classic literature ?
In such cases, he must generally be judged to have succeeded if he has established an apparent unity, say by mingling the same characters in the two actions, so that readers are not readily conscious of the lack of real structural unity.
Usually secondary in appearance but of vital artistic importance, is the author's power of description, of picturing both the appearance of his characters and the scenes which make his background and help to give the tone of his work.
In order to ascertain the real character of the government, it may be considered in relation to the foundation on which it is to be established; to the sources from which its ordinary powers are to be drawn; to the operation of those powers; to the extent of them; and to the authority by which future changes in the government are to be introduced.
In requiring more than a majority, and particularly in computing the proportion by STATES, not by CITIZENS, it departs from the NATIONAL and advances towards the FEDERAL character; in rendering the concurrence of less than the whole number of States sufficient, it loses again the FEDERAL and partakes of the NATIONAL character.
Do not be afraid of my wanting the character," cried Julia, with angry quickness: "I am not to be Agatha, and I am sure I will do nothing else; and as to Amelia, it is of all parts in the world the most disgusting to me.
His love of conversation, his affection, his indifference to riches, even his garrulity, are interesting traits of character.
The character of Adeimantus is deeper and graver, and the profounder objections are commonly put into his mouth.
livia, with its geographical sub-species, only two or three other species of rock-pigeons are known; and these have not any of the characters of the domestic breeds.
Causes of Variability -- Effects of Habit -- Correlation of Growth -- Inheritance -- Character of Domestic Varieties -- Difficulty of distinguishing between Varieties and Species -- Origin of Domestic Varieties from one or more Species -- Domestic Pigeons, their Differences and Origin -- Principle of Selection anciently followed, its Effects -- Methodical and Unconscious Selection -- Unknown Origin of our Domestic Productions -- Circumstances favourable to Man's power of Selection.
It is depressing to see so really noble a character as Catherine soured, as we feel, and lowered, as time goes on, from the happy resignation of the first volume (in which solemn, beautiful, and entire, and so very real, she is like a poem of Wordsworth) down to the mere passivity of the third volume, and the closing scene of Robert Elsmere's days, very exquisitely as this episode of unbelieving yet saintly biography has been conceived and executed.
To us, the belief in God, in goodness at all, in the story of Bethlehem, does not rest on evidence so diverse in character and force as Mrs.
A competent knowledge of history and of the belles-lettres is here absolutely necessary; and without this share of knowledge at least, to affect the character of an historian, is as vain as to endeavour at building a house without timber or mortar, or brick or stone.
He looked with hate and loathing on the poverty and downfall of his family, and treated his mother with haughty contempt, although he knew that his whole future depended on her character and reputation.
He had long pondered, too, over his relations with Aglaya, and had persuaded himself that with such a strange, childish, innocent character as hers, things might have ended very differently.
Character is this moral order seen through the medium of an individual nature.