To me, the words "personality" and "character" more or less mean the same thing, but I wonder if for a person who is not personable, we can say:

  • He lacks personality.

But would it be possible to say:

  • He lacks character.

If not, then why?

2 Answers 2


You can certainly say that someone "lacks character," but it is usually different from "lacking personality."

Personality is what we present to the world the way we interact with other people, but character is more of an internal trait, what makes them who they are at a fundamental moral level.

"He lacks character," implies that he is spineless, "wishy-washy", or weak internally.

Even someone who lacks "personality" and is boring to the point people don't want to be around him doesn't necessarily lack "character" if he stands up to a bully, or refuses to back down when he is morally right, etc.

In casual and sloppy speech, I could picture someone saying "He lacks character" to mean he was boring, not charismatic, no-fun to be around, or very conforming. (Similar to "lacks personality")

Things that aren't people (like e.g., buildings or artworks) can be said to lack character if they are ordinary or unimaginative.

But when writing or speaking thoughtfully about a person, we usually make a distinction between someone's personality and their character.

  • So I guess what you say in the sense in my question is just: "he lacks personality". Do you agree @Lorel C?
    – A-friend
    Aug 7, 2019 at 16:57
  • 1
    yeah, @A-friend, in your example, he isn't "personable". "Personable" is mostly a surface characteristic, so I would say he lacked "personality." Another example: according to the movie (forgot the title), Winston Churchill was sometimes rude and insufferable (not personable), but we wouldn't say he lacked "character". (And yes I know the movie may not be true to life as far as representing Churchill accurately, but it's an example of the kind of thing I mean.)
    – Lorel C.
    Aug 7, 2019 at 17:14

I would definitely interpret lacking character as more moral criticism and lacking personality as more social criticism.

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