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Characteristic vs. Quality: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
A characteristic is a distinguishing feature or trait of someone or something, while quality refers to the standard or grade of excellence of a person, object, or trait.
Characteristic vs. Quality

Key Differences

A characteristic is an attribute or feature that helps to identify or distinguish a person, object, or phenomenon. It could be a physical trait, behavior, or any other defining aspect. Quality, on the other hand, denotes the level of excellence or standard of something, focusing on how good or bad a feature, product, or performance is.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023
Characteristics are often neutral descriptors, like the color of a car or the height of a person, without implying a judgment of worth or value. Qualities, conversely, inherently carry a judgment or evaluation, like the durability of a product or the kindness of a person, indicating a level of excellence or lack thereof.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023
When discussing a characteristic, one might refer to specific, observable traits that define an object or individual, such as 'blue eyes' or 'curved leaves'. In discussing quality, the focus shifts to the degree of goodness, efficiency, or value of those traits, like 'excellent vision' or 'healthy growth'.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023
Characteristics are often used to differentiate or categorize, providing a way to identify and classify various entities. Qualities, in contrast, are used to assess and judge, serving as criteria for determining the worth, effectiveness, or desirability of those entities.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023
In summary, while characteristics help in recognizing and distinguishing different entities by their attributes, qualities are concerned with assessing these attributes in terms of their standards, value, and excellence.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Definition

A distinguishing feature or trait
The standard or grade of excellence
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Judgment

Neutral, descriptive
Involves evaluation of worth or value
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Function

Identifies or differentiates
Assesses or judges
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Focus

Specific attributes
Level of excellence of attributes
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Application

Used for classification
Used for assessment
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Characteristic and Quality Definitions

Characteristic

An inherent or identifying element.
The characteristic resilience of the material makes it ideal for outdoor use.
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Nov 10, 2023

Quality

The standard of something as measured against other things.
The quality of her work has always been outstanding.
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Nov 10, 2023

Characteristic

A typical or notable quality of something.
The characteristic sweetness of the fruit is due to its high sugar content.
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Nov 10, 2023

Quality

Superiority or worth.
The quality of his argument was evident in its persuasiveness.
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Nov 10, 2023

Characteristic

A distinguishing trait or feature.
Her characteristic laugh made her easily recognizable in the crowd.
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Nov 10, 2023
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Quality

A distinctive attribute or characteristic.
Empathy is a quality much needed in nursing.
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Characteristic

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.
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

An inherent or distinguishing characteristic; a property
The medicinal qualities of a plant.
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Oct 19, 2023

Characteristic

A feature that helps to identify, tell apart, or describe recognizably; a distinguishing mark or trait.
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

A personal trait, especially a character trait
"The most vital quality a soldier can possess is self-confidence" (George S. Patton).
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Oct 19, 2023

Characteristic

(Mathematics) The integral part of a logarithm as distinguished from the mantissa
The characteristic of the logarithm 6.3214 is 6.
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

Essential character; nature
"The quality of mercy is not strain'd" (Shakespeare).
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Oct 19, 2023

Characteristic

(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.
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Quality

Superiority of kind
An intellect of unquestioned quality.
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Oct 19, 2023

Characteristic

Being a distinguishing feature of a person or thing.
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

Degree or grade of excellence
Yard goods of low quality.
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Oct 19, 2023

Characteristic

A distinguishing feature of a person or thing.
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Quality

Investments that have a low risk of loss or default
The flight to quality.
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Oct 19, 2023

Characteristic

(mathematics) The integer part of a logarithm.
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

High social position
People of quality.
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Characteristic

(nautical) The distinguishing features of a navigational light on a lighthouse etc by which it can be identified (colour, pattern of flashes etc.).
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

Those in a high social position
Likes to associate with quality.
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Characteristic

For a given field or ring, a natural number that is either the smallest positive number n such that n instances of the multiplicative identity (1) summed together yield the additive identity (0) or, if no such number exists, the number 0.
The characteristic of a field, if non-zero, must be a prime number.
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

(Music) Timbre, as determined by harmonics
A voice with a distinctive metallic quality.
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Oct 19, 2023

Characteristic

Pertaining to, or serving to constitute, the character; showing the character, or distinctive qualities or traits, of a person or thing; peculiar; distinctive.
Characteristic clearness of temper.
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

(Linguistics) The character of a vowel sound determined by the size and shape of the oral cavity and the amount of resonance with which the sound is produced.
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Oct 19, 2023

Characteristic

A distinguishing trait, quality, or property; an element of character; that which characterized.
The characteristics of a true critic.
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

(Logic) The positive or negative character of a proposition.
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Oct 19, 2023

Characteristic

The integral part (whether positive or negative) of a logarithm.
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

Having a high degree of excellence
The importance of quality health care.
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Oct 19, 2023

Characteristic

A prominent aspect of something;
The map showed roads and other features
Generosity is one of his best characteristics
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

(uncountable) Level of excellence.
This school is well-known for having teachers of high quality.
Quality of life is usually determined by health, education, and income.
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Oct 19, 2023

Characteristic

A distinguishing quality
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

(countable) Something that differentiates a thing or person.
One of the qualities of pure iron is that it does not rust easily.
While being impulsive can be great for artists, it is not a desirable quality for engineers.
Security, stability, and efficiency are good qualities of an operating system.
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Oct 19, 2023

Characteristic

The integer part (positive or negative) of the representation of a logarithm; in the expression log 643 = 2.808 the characteristic is 2
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

(archaic) Position; status; rank.
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Oct 19, 2023

Characteristic

Any measurable property of a device measured under closely specified conditions
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

(archaic) High social position. (See also the quality.)
A peasant is not allowed to fall in love with a lady of quality.
Membership of this golf club is limited to those of quality and wealth.
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Oct 19, 2023

Characteristic

Typical or distinctive;
Heard my friend's characteristic laugh
Red and gold are the characteristic colors of autumn
Stripes characteristic of the zebra
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

(uncountable) The degree to which a man-made object or system is free from bugs and flaws, as opposed to scope of functions or quantity of items.
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Oct 19, 2023

Characteristic

An attribute that defines or identifies something.
Stripes are a characteristic feature of zebras.
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Nov 10, 2023

Quality

(thermodynamics) In a two-phase liquid–vapor mixture, the ratio of the mass of vapor present to the total mass of the mixture.
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Oct 19, 2023

Characteristic

A distinctive mark or quality.
His characteristic honesty is well-known among his friends.
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Nov 10, 2023

Quality

The third step in OPQRST where the responder investigates what the NOI/MOI feels like.
To identify quality try asking, "what does it feel like?".
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

A newspaper with relatively serious, high-quality content.
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

Being of good worth, well made, fit for purpose; of high quality.
We only sell quality products.
That was a quality game by Jim Smith.
A quality system ensures products meet customer requirements.
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

The condition of being of such and such a sort as distinguished from others; nature or character relatively considered, as of goods; character; sort; rank.
We lived most joyful, obtaining acquaintance with many of the city not of the meanest quality.
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

Special or temporary character; profession; occupation; assumed or asserted rank, part, or position.
I made that inquiry in quality of an antiquary.
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

That which makes, or helps to make, anything such as it is; anything belonging to a subject, or predicable of it; distinguishing property, characteristic, or attribute; peculiar power, capacity, or virtue; distinctive trait; as, the tones of a flute differ from those of a violin in quality; the great quality of a statesman.
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

An acquired trait; accomplishment; acquisition.
He had those qualities of horsemanship, dancing, and fencing which accompany a good breeding.
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

Superior birth or station; high rank; elevated character.
I shall appear at the masquerade dressed up in my feathers, that the quality may see how pretty they will look in their traveling habits.
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

An essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone;
The quality of mercy is not strained
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

A degree or grade of excellence or worth;
The quality of students has risen
An executive of low caliber
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

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
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

(music) the distinctive property of a complex sound (a voice or noise or musical sound);
The timbre of her soprano was rich and lovely
The muffled tones of the broken bell summoned them to meet
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

High social status;
A man of quality
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

Of superior grade;
Choice wines
Prime beef
Prize carnations
Quality paper
Select peaches
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

Of high social status;
People of quality
A quality family
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Oct 19, 2023

Quality

A degree or grade of excellence.
The hotel is known for its high quality of service.
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Nov 10, 2023

Quality

An attribute or property.
Durability is an important quality in outdoor furniture.
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Nov 10, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is a characteristic?

A characteristic is a distinguishing trait or feature of someone or something.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

Can a characteristic be a quality?

Yes, a characteristic can be a quality if it denotes a level of excellence or value.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

How do characteristics and qualities differ in usage?

Characteristics are used descriptively, while qualities involve an assessment of worth or standard.
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Nov 10, 2023

Can quality be measured?

Yes, quality often involves measurable standards or grades of excellence.
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Nov 10, 2023

Are all characteristics positive?

No, characteristics are neutral and can be either positive, negative, or neutral.
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Nov 10, 2023

Is quality subjective?

Quality can be subjective, as perceptions of excellence vary among people.
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Nov 10, 2023

How do characteristics help in identification?

Characteristics help to distinguish or identify entities based on specific traits.
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Nov 10, 2023

How does culture affect perceptions of quality?

Cultural factors can greatly influence what is considered high or low quality.
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Nov 10, 2023

How is quality defined?

Quality refers to the standard or degree of excellence of something.
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Nov 10, 2023

Is high quality always desirable?

Generally, high quality is desirable, but it can depend on the context and needs.
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Nov 10, 2023

Do characteristics change over time?

Some characteristics can change, while others remain constant.
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Nov 10, 2023

Are physical traits considered characteristics?

Yes, physical traits like height or color are typical characteristics.
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Nov 10, 2023

How do scientists use characteristics in their work?

Scientists use characteristics to classify, identify, and study different phenomena.
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Nov 10, 2023

What role do qualities play in evaluation?

Qualities are used to evaluate or judge the worth or standard of something.
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Nov 10, 2023

Does quality always refer to positive aspects?

No, quality can refer to both positive and negative levels of excellence.
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Nov 10, 2023

What impact does quality have on consumer choices?

Quality greatly impacts consumer choices, often influencing purchasing decisions.
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Nov 10, 2023

Are characteristics unique to individuals?

Some characteristics can be unique, but many are shared among multiple entities.
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Nov 10, 2023

Can quality be improved?

Yes, quality can be improved through enhancements, refinements, or training.
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Nov 10, 2023

Can an object have multiple characteristics?

Yes, objects can have multiple characteristics defining them.
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Nov 10, 2023

Is 'characteristic' used more in everyday language or technical contexts?

'Characteristic' is used in both everyday and technical contexts.
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Nov 10, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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