# Where did the terminology "characteristic" of a field originate?

Where did this terminology first appear, and what was the motivation behind using the word "characteristic" to refer to the property that $1 + 1 + ...+1$ a certain number of times gives us the additive identity?

• Not an answer for this site, but note that if $1 + 1 + \ldots + 1$ ($n$ times) is $0$, then $x + x + \ldots + x$ ($n$ times) is $0$ for every $x$ and (for a field) vice-versa. Nov 14, 2016 at 21:41
• For example: Was it taken over from German Charakteristik, and if so what did it mean there? Nov 15, 2016 at 2:01