from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The study of the shape and protuberances of the skull, based on the now discredited belief that they reveal character and mental capacity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The science, now generally discredited, which studies the relationships between a person's character and the morphology (structure) of the skull.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The science of the special functions of the several parts of the brain, or of the supposed connection between the various faculties of the mind and particular organs in the brain.
  • n. In popular usage, the physiological hypothesis of Gall, that the mental faculties, and traits of character, are shown on the surface of the head or skull; craniology.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The theory that the mental powers of the individual consist of independent faculties, each of which has its seat in a definite brain-region, whose size is commensurate with the power of manifesting this particular faculty.
  • n. Comparative psychology; the study of the mind, intellect, or intelligence of man and the lower animals.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a now abandoned study of the shape of skull as indicative of the strengths of different faculties


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From phreno- + -logy.


  • Gallian system, and who are aware that my discoveries have thoroughly revolutionized as well as enlarged cerebral science, rendering the old term phrenology inadequate to express its present status.

    Buchanan's Journal of Man, February 1887 Volume 1, Number 1

  • I spoke of phrenology, he said, not with the object of criticising a system which has its good side, in so far as it tends to complete the series of physiological observations that aim at increasing our knowledge of man; I used the word phrenology because the only fatality that we believe in nowadays is that created by our own instincts.


  • A strong background in phrenology would aid the mission, he argued, because “you will not have to wait to learn their [the Chinese people’s] peculiarities.”

    The Romance of China: Excursions to China in U.S. Culture: 1776-1876

  • Horace Mann called phrenology “the greatest discovery of the age.”


  • For example, Dr. Mortimer, a man Holmes and Watson befriend and refer to as a fellow man of science, is an expert in phrenology.

    The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

  • In the early nineteenth century, Gall developed the notion of phrenology skull configuration and bumps reflecting underlying brain structure and made the first organized connection between brain and behavior.

    The Neuropsychiatric Guide to Modern Everyday Psychiatry

  • He was likewise taken to Mr. Deville, a noted professor of the art called phrenology, who felt his head, carefully measuring all its bumps, and, having learnt Clare's name, informed him that he possessed all the swellings necessary to make verses.

    The Life of John Clare

  • [1] The summary of this distinguished lecturer's objections to phrenology is to be found in the Appendix to vol i. of "Lectures on Metaphysics," p. 404, et seq.

    A Strange Story — Volume 05

  • The son is a clever young man, and has read a good deal; pleasant, too, in society; but tampers with phrenology, which is unworthy of his father's son.

    The Journal of Sir Walter Scott From the Original Manuscript at Abbotsford

  • Lest you think I make too much of the rear end, note that the ancient Greeks apparently practiced a kind of phrenology of the keister, considering it the key to health and fidelity.

    The Better to Eat You With, Luxury Rivals


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  • I kept thinking this study was called phenology. Better mark it to avoid future embarrassment. ^^;;

    April 9, 2008

  • The (now discredited) study of the shape of the skull as a means of determining character and intelligence.

    March 6, 2007