I'm writing an article for a tourism website. There is a section named "Traits". I mean it as some things special about a place, things that make it different or just interesting.

Is it ok to use "Traits" in this context? The definitions in dictionaries seem to work ok, but the examples they give are about personality or character. That's why I'm not sure it can be used when describing a place, not a person.

Cambridge Dictionary:

a particular characteristic that can produce a particular type of behaviour

  • His sense of humour is one of his better traits.
  • Arrogance is a very unattractive personality/character trait.

a characteristic, esp. of a personality:

  • Patience is one of his best traits.


A trait is a particular characteristic, quality, or tendency that someone or something has.

  • Many of our personality traits are developed during those early months.
  • Creativity is a human trait.

Is it acceptable to use "traits" to describe special things about a place, or is there a better option?

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    Cambridge Dictionary: - a particular characteristic that can produce a particular type of behaviour/ - a characteristic, esp. of a personality. Looks like it is used more to describe a person, not a place. Collins: -A trait is a particular characteristic, quality, or tendency that someone or something has. But the examples are about personality or character again. That's why I'm not sure it can be used when describing a place, not a person. – Natalie Apr 17 '18 at 9:03
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    That's great Natalie; that research and the explanation of your exact reason for the question makes this question on-topic. I've edited the research into your question. Feel free to reword if I haven't written it in your "voice". – AndyT Apr 17 '18 at 9:13

In particular instances, a place may have “traits,” even as animates do — like people, animals, or plants — but an article with that title alone would not immediately be understood as describing some discrete set of distinctive qualities that might encourage a tourist to visit. Famous landmarks, beautiful landscape, or rich cultural offerings may be defining characteristics, i.e., “traits” of a popular tourist destination, but this merely suggests a particular place satisfies the criteria for “popular tourist destination.” I doubt this is the sense you have in mind.

Cultural diversity is one of the main traits of Bangkok. You'll get a glimpse of it from China Town, and also Pahurat, Bankok's designated little India.

Cultural diversity, of course, is a feature of Bangkok’s population, but as this author suggests, visible in the architecture and urban life of particular neighborhoods which define Bangkok as culturally diverse. You might find this feature of life in Bangkok under a title “What Makes Bangkok Bangkok,” i.e. a discussion listing distinctive or defining qualities a tourist might experience, but “traits” alone is too broad and confusing.

Lucknow is known for many things besides its ‘tehzeeb’ (etiquette). Its history, politics, food, clothes, music, culture and language are traits of a city steeped in rich traditions.

Here, the entirety of human culture, material and immaterial, in an Indian city are qualities conforming to a type, i.e. a city steeped in rich traditions, but a tourist website would not likely discuss the history, politics, food, etc. of Lucknow under the title “Traits.”

Similarly, a “trait” of a good hotel, i.e., a defining characteristic, means here that offering a free breakfast is true to type:

One of the most important traits of a good hotel is that we feed you well, which is why we provide a free hot breakfast every morning for the whole family.

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And during the controversy over the logo for the 2012 London Olympics, one writer defended the design by arguing that its jagged shapes abstracted a physical trait of the city:

And he says the accusations that it is ugly mirrors the London’s own aesthetic shortcomings. “London itself was never designed to be aesthetically pleasing. It’s a mesh of organically grown streets full of different styles and cultures. It’s not an ugly city by any means, but it’s not ‘pretty’. I think the logo with its sharp angles, strong shapes, defined edges and bright colours does a great job of representing the actual traits of London.”

Here, it is the unplanned, organic growth of the city as a trait that the author sees reflected in the design. But readers would expect a more specific title than “traits” to describe the physical features of a city or place.


I suggest you use a more precise term or terms, no more than three, such as “Dining, Entertainment, Nightlife” and “Landmarks and Museums” to talk about tourist attractions or other features of the place that might interest tourists. And there’s always the pattern I suggested above: What makes x x, which could use subheadings like “Sports” and the others as distinctive characteristics, i.e. “traits,” of a particular place.

  • Nice but still seems 'feature' is better. Trait seems more about people. – lbf Apr 17 '18 at 14:15
  • @lbf: The question was: can you use traits with places? My answer is, yes, but only in partticular circumstances. With which part are you disagreeing? These authors' usage? – KarlG Apr 17 '18 at 14:49
  • @KarlG: Thank you very much! Your explanation is really helpful! – Natalie Apr 17 '18 at 14:57
  • @lbf: thank you, 'features' and 'highlights' were my other options. Is 'highlights' ok in this case? – Natalie Apr 17 '18 at 15:17
  • yes 'highlights' are frequently used in America. – lbf Apr 17 '18 at 15:29

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