I'm looking for a word or phrase to describe a labeled behavioral pattern that we might observe in someone.

For example: A person whose focus is primarily on getting promoted, might be labeled a "corporate climber".

Clearly, this isn't a job title. I don't think "role" fits either, and "label" seems too vague. Other words I've considered but am not totally happy with: "stereotype", "personality type", "trait". It's hard to describe why I'm not happy with them though. I'm just hoping someone will suggest something else.

UPDATE: I'm thinking maybe "persona". I think "characteristic" answers my question, but it's not quite what I'm looking for, so probably the description in my question isn't right. Arrgh. Verbalizing things is so hard!

  • A characteristic?
    – Dan Bron
    May 6, 2016 at 13:15
  • Do you want a word for the label or a word for the behavior? Are you using the word labeled to mean "recognized/identified"?
    – TimR
    May 6, 2016 at 13:45
  • 1
    "Corporate climber" is a label for a person who exhibits a certain set of behaviors. "Father", "Manager" are other labels. An individual could be all of these at once. The latter two are roles, but "corporate climber" isn't really a role. And "Father" isn't really a characteristic. Ideally I'd like a word that encompasses all of these (other than "label"). May 6, 2016 at 14:01
  • Your concept is not very clearly delineated. Would "Yuppie" be an analogous label? Or do you mean to steer clear of demographic groups?
    – TimR
    May 6, 2016 at 16:05

4 Answers 4


Perhaps archetype

A very typical example of a certain person or thing: the book is a perfect archetype of the genre

Oxford Dictionaries Online


I would suggest 'Characteristic', being a typical or noticeable quality of someone or something.

  • Thanks. I've upvoted this because it's probably the closest answer to my question, but "archetype" is closer to what I actually wanted! May 6, 2016 at 13:30

"social climber" could be called an epithet.


Try essence - the basic nature of a thing : the quality or qualities that make a thing what it is. **The properties or attributes by means of which something can be placed in its proper class or identified as being what it is. **

Also nature- the way that a person behaves: the character or personality of a person. It also means the inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing.

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