List of Character Traits

There could be many lists of character traits or character qualities. In fact, if you and I were each to make our own list of character traits it is likely that they would be somewhat different.
Sometimes, different words might be used to describe the same character trait – honesty and truthfulness, for example. Or your list might contain character traits that I didn’t think about and would have included if I had thought of them. It might be that one of us would include some things in our list that the other would not agree with. I might include intelligence in my list of character traits, but you might say that intelligence is not a character trait but an ability.
So, in the full knowledge that there may be other just as valid lists of character traits, I am presenting below one list that has been very helpful to me. The working definitions associated with each character trait are from Character First!(tm).
  • Alertness – Being aware of what is taking place around me so I can have the right responses.
  • Attentiveness – Showing the worth of a person or task by giving my undivided concentration.
  • Availability – Making my own schedule and priorities secondary to the wishes of those I serve.
  • Benevolence – Giving to others basic needs without having as my motive personal reward.
  • Boldness – Confidence that what I have to say or do is true, right, and just.
  • Cautiousness – Knowing how important right timing is in accomplishing right actions.
  • Compassion – Investing whatever is necessary to heal the hurts of others.
  • Contentment – Realizing that true happiness does not depend on material conditions.
  • Creativity – Approaching a need, a task, or an idea from a new perspective.
  • Decisiveness – The ability to recognize key factors and finalize difficult decisions.
  • Deference – Limiting my freedom so I do not offend the tastes of those around me.
  • Dependability – Fulfilling what I consented to do, even if it means unexpected sacrifice.
  • Determination – Purposing to accomplish right goals at the right time, regardless of the opposition.
  • Diligence – Investing my time and energy to complete each task assigned to me.
  • Discernment – Understanding the deeper reasons why things happen.
  • Discretion – Recognizing and avoiding words, actions, and attitudes that could bring undesirable consequences.
  • Endurance – The inward strength to withstand stress and do my best.
  • Enthusiasm – Expressing joy in each task as I give it my best effort.
  • Faith – Confidence that actions rooted in good character will yield the best outcome, even when I cannot see how.
  • Flexibility – Willingness to change plans or ideas according to the direction of my authorities.
  • Forgiveness – Clearing the record of those who have wronged me and not holding a grudge.
  • Generosity – Carefully managing my resources so I can freely give to those in need.
  • Gentleness – Showing consideration and personal concern for others.
  • Gratefulness – Letting others know by my words and actions how they have benefitted my life.
  • Honor – Respecting those in leadership because of the highter authorities they represent.
  • Hospitality – Cheerfully sharing food, shelter, or conversation to benefit others.
  • Humility – Acknowledging that achievement results from the investment of others in my life.
  • Initiative – Recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked to do it.
  • Joyfulness – Maintaining a good attitude, even when faced with unpleasant conditions.
  • Justice – Taking personal responsibility to uphold what is pure, right, and true.
  • Loyalty – Using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to those I serve.
  • Meekness – Yielding my personal rights and expectations with a desire to serve.
  • Obedience – Quickly and cheerfully carrying out the direction of those who are responsible for me.
  • Orderliness – Arranging myself and my surroundings to achieve greater efficiency.
  • Patience – Accepting a difficult situation without giving a deadline to remove it.
  • Persuasiveness – Guiding vital truths around another’s mental roadblocks.
  • Punctuality – Showing esteem for others by doing the right thing at the right time.
  • Resourcefulness – Finding practical uses for that which others would overlook or discard.
  • Responsibility – Knowing and doing what is expected of me.
  • Security – Structuring my life around that which cannot be destroyed or taken away.
  • Self-Control – Rejecting wrong desires and doing what is right.
  • Sensitivity – Perceiving the true attitudes and emotions of those around me.
  • Sincerity – Eagerness to do what is right with transparent motives.
  • Thoroughness – Knowing what factors will diminish the effectiveness of my work or words if neglected.
  • Thriftiness – Allowing myself and others to spend only what is necessary.
  • Tolerance – Realizing that everyone is at varying levels of character development.
  • Truthfulness – Earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts.
  • Virtue – The moral excellen ce evident in my life as I consistently do what is right.
  • Wisdom – Seeing and responding to life situations from a perspective that transcends my current circumstances.

Character First! published booklets on each of these character qualities. Each booklet is designed to describe the quality more fully and give illustrations of how it is demonstrated in life. These booklets are valuable resources for those who wish to build good character qualities into their lives. Go here to purchase the booklets.

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65 Responses

  1. Scott S. says:

    The MIT student’s list referred to previously ( is composed primarily of Personality traits, not Character traits. There is a big difference between the two. Personality describes what is expressed outwardly, but does not address who you really are and what your true values are inwardly, as Character does. I can affect a “friendly” personality toward you outwardly, yet inside be hate-filled, and behind your back be very mean-spirited toward you. In fact, such a contradictory duality would show my character to be deceitful, perhaps even Machiavellian. Never confuse Personality with Character. Character is actually who you are inside, and when no one else is looking. Personality is simply what you project for others to see. Ideally, for a person of complete integrity, the two will be one and the same. I have not achieved this yet, but it’s my goal.

  2. Beverly Scofield says:

    I checked out several lists in trying to pin down how to characterize Donald Trump’s behavior. I found a rather good one at

    • Beverly Scofield says:

      Addendum to my earlier comment:

      The MIT list included 234 Positive, 292 Neutral and 292 Negative traits.

      • Larry says:

        Thank you, Beverly! That is very interesting. I’m not sure I would think of all of the things on these lists as character traits. Some of them, I think, are more descriptive of behaviors than of character qualities (rowdy, for example) and some have more to do with physical (athletic, clean), mental (intelligent), or cultural (attractive, sexy) traits than with character. I can see that most of them could be used to describe aspects of a person’s character, though, and I think that is helpful. I would be interested to know what you think, and what other’s think about these lists.

  3. dorris says:

    Very helpful..thank you..

  4. David says:

    Thank you for prefacing your list with an understanding that different lists might be different in other locations. I think the use of the lists is a good starting place for many, but individuals definitions are the ultimate deciding factor to what should be included. Therefore, it is worthwhile for each person to arrive at their list.

  5. mahesh says:

    exact meaning of “a person of reserve character” ?

    • Larry says:

      I don’t understand your question, mahesh. I can’t find any reference to “a person of reserve character” on this page. Where did you see it?

  6. Joan Kearney says:

    Objectivity, fairness, dignity are three I might add


  7. Anonymous says:

    Ok but more would be better. Maybe some more negative ones. Still helped a little 😐

    • Joan Kearney says:

      One good one might be intuitive some negative ones I thought of might be animosity, hostility, deceitfulness, intolerance

  8. Anonymous says:

    This helped me, but can you add more…. Thanks

  9. Anonymous says:

    I need better traits

  10. Anonymous says:

    It helped me a lot with my homework. It was great

  11. Anonymous says:

    These didn’t help us at all!!!

  12. vinay kumar says:

    I bring those words meaning to my life
    Thank you fr this

  13. Jaylen says:

    so good

  14. Mrs. Boys class says:

    Thank you for the amazing words. We are doing a project for class to compare and contrasting two different characters. I want to say thanks from the 21 kids in my class.

  15. Jessy says:

    thanks very much if not for anything I have learnt so many things from this article I am a changed person now thanks.

  16. an ominous the third says:

    This helped me a lot with my project. Thank you.

  17. Jim Grieme says:

    Nicely done! You base everything on scriptural truth yet you present it in an apologetic, non-threatening manner which communicates truth well. I was doing research for a sermon introduction in a series on Philippians. The perspectives here were very helpful!

  18. Samantha Wong says:

    How come there isn’t a lot of character traits on this website?

  19. Calum Tingham says:

    What a great article. I love this list and its explanations. Thank you for sharing. I aim to incorporate all of these traits into my personality! The only person to do this so far has been Jesus…

    • Anonymous says:

      It was really helpful with my school project I have I have to list a bunch of character traits and their meanings but I have to connect them to a character from the book I read this was perfect and helped a lot

    • Anonymous says:

      This helped love my school project I had to make a list of character traits and their meanings to a specific person and a book I was reading it really helped

    • Anonymous says:

      This helped love my school project I had to make a list of character traits and their meanings to a specific person and a book I was reading it helped a lot with my project

  20. S says:

    These are all very beautiful traits that are not always easy to live up to in the world we live in, but is always worth the effort! Thank you for this post. I am currently working on giving people a realistic but positive outlook on life and day-to-day Issues on Let me know what you think!

  21. joicejackson dokolo says:

    it is good to here what you wrote and iam happy of it

  22. J says:

    For Michelle, careful with truthfulness….as you say yourself “Being truthful doesn’t mean I’m telling the whole truth. The information I omit, for whatever reason, means my ‘truthfulness’ is just the opposite and is misleading if not manipulative and cowardly.” Your example is deceit and correctly explained as not truthful. Truthfulness ‘is’ telling the the whole truth despite ones wishes to hold parts back (usually to protect oneself). A very difficult thing for people of today to do……and why it should remain on the list, for usually only one of good character can do this.

  23. Kimberly Alvarez says:

    A cha4achter trait describes how they are in their inside.

  24. Anonymous says:

    thank for helping with my homwork

  25. carolyn robertson says:

    this website about different kinds of characters personality is AWESOME!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH.

  26. Ant says:

    I love this website! I got 100% due to this

  27. Pat Goettsche says:

    I would like to ask permission to use your list of character traits in my printed material for my business etiquette classes. I will give reference to you and your publications.

    Thank you very much

  28. Ted says:

    I think Humour or Wit would go well on this list

  29. Unnamed says:

    Each is so cool… Awesomeness! Wisdom is good…
    I’m weird…
    LOL… but anyway…. COOL!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Anonymous says:

    good list

  31. Sophia says:

    Thanks a lot for sharing. You have done a great and helpful job. I will put it into action.

  32. Heather says:

    I actually needed to present this unique post, “List of Character
    Traits » What Is Character?” along with my best close friends on fb.
    I personallyjust wished to pass on your great publishing!
    Thank you, Karol

  33. thomas says:

    I to believe that your work is quite spot-on. I do agree that integrity must be added. Integrity speaks to exhibiting a sound and strong character.

  34. OB says:

    wow…this is absolutely mind blowing.great work. i was just looking out for info on a book chapter on character before stumbling on your work. it has helped ease my work. God richly bless you Larry for this compilation

  35. johnijane says:

    THIS IS the most valuable list I think I have ever read. So profound! By these definitions it clear for me to recognize What is by GODS design for each of us. I believe it is only HIM who can actually produce these qualities in each of us. To NOT recognize them within ourselves is to deny the one who is molding each of us for higher purpose. THANK you so MUCH! Absolutely BEAUTIFUL!! You have helped me see how I am being transformed remarkably!! What I have absorbed from this is truly enriching. I am truly grateful for it.

  36. Gary says:

    How about courage or bravery, that is, acting at risk of one’s welbeing for a greater cause. I don’t think your “boldness” covers this type of trait. Or am I missing something in your list?

    I like your list. Similar to the one Andre Comte-Sponville drew up.

  37. Laura says:

    Thank you for this list. I’m currently working on an essay that asks what two areas of my character I want to develop, and your list was very helpful to me!! I picked compassion (before I found your site) and then as a result of this post, meekness. Meekness is something I am just learning about, but know I want for my character in a big way!

  38. Michelle Stecker says:

    I believe that integrity, honesty and truthfulness are not the same thing. For instance, I have integrity when I listen to my conscience and speak or act accordingly regardless of how popular my view may be. I don’t have to be right to have integrity and by being able to listen to my conscience, speaking from that place sometimes leads me to reassess what I believe – especially when I get feedback. I must strip the message from the delivery or deliverer of the feed back and look at it for what I can learn. If the delivery feels grating, threatening or sarcastic, that isn’t what I need to react to or think about; it’s the message I need to understand. If it feels like a personal attack, that’s something interesting for me to examine why I take it that way. I don’t have too. What if my beloved grandmother was telling me the same thing? Then how would I take it?

    Honesty means I am honest with myself first about who I am, what I think and I have to courage to examine why I think the way I do and how it moves me forward AND how it holds me back. I must first take inventory of my attitudes (missing on the list above) and consider how attitudes (mine or others) skew my thinking and therefore my honesty.

    What is truthfulness? I don’t think this word belongs on the list. Being truthful doesn’t mean I’m telling the whole truth. The information I omit, for whatever reason, means my ‘truthfulness’ is just the opposite and is misleading if not manipulative and cowardly.

    And what does any of this mean? Looking it up in the dictionary, knowing it when I see/hear it/think it does not provide clear reliable guidepost. How does that happen? Try listing to you conscience and expressing your beliefs without reacting to internal patterns that may keep you defensive, aggressive and evasive therefore drowning out your the wisdom of your conscience. And, let others speak their conscience and honor the courage it takes to do this. I and you should not defend our inner beliefs and values, but be curious about why others may attack them.

  39. esther says:

    is it possible for someone to have all these traits without the holy spirit? Cause i’ve seen lots of things in this world of ours.

  40. Judy says:

    Can you send me an emailed version. Thank you, this was very valuable.

  41. Loveth says:

    Oh God help me, for l still have a long way to go .this is indeed a qulitiy of a good christain.

  42. Lyla says:

    Is there a printer-friendly version?

  43. emmanuel gankon yohanna says:

    wow! Good thought,i will put it to work.

  44. Mobayor says:

    Wow! Perfect work. Those mentioned traits were honestly thought of plus i think the aggregate of those traits are the true character of a person.

  45. Celestine says:

    accurate and enlightening explanation for each character trait.

  46. Celestine says:

    well thought out and accurate description

  47. daniel wumani says:

    I will meditate on each so as to internalpze them as part of me

  1. December 26, 2011

    […] in particular, this page which lists some reflections on the qualities of character.  I plan to work on these qualities in […]

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    […] I want to live in honesty, integrity, diligence, gratefulness, acceptance, meekness, self-control, responsibility, and on it goes:) For more words you can visit: […]

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