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Meaning of cardinal trait

car'dinal trait'

Pronunciation: [key]
— Psychol. Psychol.
  1. a basic and dominant characteristic, as greed or ambition, that, according to a theory developed by psychologist Gordon Allport (1936), controls the behavior of many people.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.