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A property held by all members of a class of object that is so distinctive that it is sufficient to determine membership in that class. A property that defines that which possesses it.
Classic styling deftly merged with high-precision is the defining characteristic of this women's Gucci watch collection.
Perhaps it is the defining characteristic of people in the early 21 st Century.
Invasion is a defining characteristic of malignancy, as is nuclear pleomorphism and high mitotic activity.
The relentless pursuit of GDP growth has been the defining characteristic of Western politics over the last 50 years.
And, who is to say that self-confidence isn't the defining characteristic of a basketball champion?
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