A feature is a part of a person or a thing that tends to stand out or is noticeable. Definition: Something that is distinctive or special, as in “a beautiful woman with long black hair”; “a fine meal was just what he expected”; “she has a beautiful face” etc. In the second sense the feature is usually added after the noun – as in “a beautiful woman” (instead of “a woman” or “a woman’s”). The word “features” itself may even be used in this way, as in “a feature that she enjoyed” or “a feature of her personality”. These features are then used to classify and categorize a person or a group of people.
Features are not part of anatomy. They are traits that a person may have, which enables him to function normally in his environment. Examples of traits include color vision, body frame size, height, hair color, voice, etc. Some traits are considered to be a feature, while other traits are considered a non-essential trait. In the past, it was thought that only humans had features, which were later on extended to animals as well. It is now known that features are found in all vertebrates, although not all features are found in all kinds of animals.
Etymology: The origin of “characteristic” is unknown and likely comes from an earlier combination of the two words “character” and “person.” In French, characteristic is referred to a specific physical characteristic, while in English, it refers to a particular quality. Thus, “characteristic abnormal” is an example of the use of the word, where the word abnormality is used in place of character. Etymologically, the term character is derived from Latin and means ‘a set of character traits.’ The use of the word character is therefore in reference to a particular individual characteristic, rather than something general like “personality” or “style.”
Classification and Research: In science, classification is the act of dividing things into separate classes or sets. In classification, there is often a tendency to group things into distinct sections, which are further broken down into smaller and more specific subgroups. Thus, a set of characteristics known as abnormal is lumped together under the term abnormality, while “characteristic abnormal” would be considered a more specific subtype of abnormality. There are also several instances where the classification is done without any real attempt at classifying the items.
Examples of classification are in biology when cells are classified into different types, such as aerobic and anaerobic, or plants and animals. In medicine, certain medical problems (such as those of the cardiovascular system) are divided into categories such as cardio vascular, digestive, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, neurological, orthopedic, pediatric, etc. While some of these examples might seem like simple divisions, the classification of human characteristics of others on the same levels can be complicated. In fact, many people classify people as having a particular characteristic set onto their individual level.
Features and Descriptive Terms: A very interesting part of the field of comparative linguistics deals with descriptive language use. Here, certain characteristics, words or phonetic spellings of individuals and other things are used to label a person. These terms are then matched with descriptions based on similarities with other descriptions. The only problem here is that these labels might be used to label attributes of an individual without proper adjectives to qualify the feature or word used to describe it. For instance, we could say that David is a tall man, but if we use a more precise term for tall men, such as “a well-built athlete” this description would better describe David’s characteristics.