Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Facial features.
  • noun The art of judging human character from facial features.
  • noun Divination based on facial features.
  • noun Aspect and character of an inanimate or abstract entity.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The art of discovering the characteristic qualities of the mind or temper by observation of the form and movements of the face or body, or both. Also physiognomics.
  • noun The face or countenance considered as an index to the mind or disposition; particular configuration, cast, or expression of countenance.
  • noun The art of telling fortunes by inspection of the features.
  • noun The general appearance of anything, as the particular configuration of a landscape; the external aspect, without reference to other characteristics.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The art and science of discovering the predominant temper, and other characteristic qualities of the mind, by the outward appearance, especially by the features of the face.
  • noun The face or countenance, with respect to the temper of the mind; particular configuration, cast, or expression of countenance, as denoting character.
  • noun obsolete The art telling fortunes by inspection of the features.
  • noun The general appearance or aspect of a thing, without reference to its scientific characteristics.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The art or pseudoscience of deducing the predominant temper and other characteristic qualities of the mind from the outward appearance, especially from the features of the face.
  • noun The face or countenance, with respect to the temper of the mind; particular configuration, cast, or expression of countenance, as denoting character.
  • noun The art of telling fortunes by inspection of the features.
  • noun The general appearance or aspect of a thing, without reference to its scientific characteristics; as, the physiognomy of a plant, or of a meteor.

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

  • noun the human face (`kisser' and `smiler' and `mug' are informal terms for `face' and `phiz' is British)

Etymologies

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

[Middle English phisonomie, from Old French phisionomie, from Late Latin physiognōmia, from Greek phusiognōmiā, variant of phusiognōmoniā : phusio-, physio- + gnōmōn, gnōmon-, interpreter; see gnō- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek φυσιογνωμονία ("the science or art of judging a man by his features"), from φύσις ("physique, appearance") + γνώμων ("one that knows or examines, an interpreter, discerner").

Examples

  • These Tartars do not differ much in physiognomy from the Chinese.

    The Golden Chersonese and the Way Thither

  • But our physiognomy is only a part of the equation.

    Men's brains, women's brains

  • But our physiognomy is only a part of the equation.

    Archive 2006-08-01

  • But our physiognomy is only a part of the equation.

    Men's brains, women's brains

  • These Tartars do not differ much in physiognomy from the Chinese.

    The Golden Chersonese and the way thither

  • Remember that his very physiognomy is a cipher the key to which it behooves you to search for most diligently.

    The Promised Land

  • If he does not justify the hopes and expectations of the nation, physiognomy is of no value. —

    General M'Clellan

  • He was born under the Pyrenees; he was a Gascon of the Gascons, one of a people strongly distinguished by intellectual and moral character, by manners, by modes of speech, by accent, and by physiognomy from the French of the Seine and of the Loire; and he had many of the peculiarities of the race to which he belonged.

    Critical and Historical Essays, Volume III (of 3)

  • I would again borrow Ld Carysforts book, [4] & get a face of better physiognomy from the print there. the book does not want such aid — but it would be serving a young man of merit, who wants assistance.

    Letter 274

  • Yet for the sheer visual audacity and wit, the Echt Amerikan sense of the didactic effortlessly intermingled with pleasure (We’re gonna expose you to some highbrow music, sonny, but you’ll have fun anyway), and the move away from the heavy Germanic style of earlier features into a cleaner, more open sense of space and horizon and character (physiognomy is destiny, except when hippos dance!) it remains my favorite feature-length release.

    A Ceramic Fantasia : Scrubbles.net

Comments

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  • Interpretion or divination using a person's facial characteristics. Related to phrenology, which was popular in the 19th Century but later discredited.

    December 1, 2007

  • "My aged employer, with his physiognomy

    Shining from soap like a star in astronomy

    Said, "Mr. Cox, you'll oblige me and honour-me

    If you will take this as your holiday,

    If you will take this as your holiday!"

    --Cox and Box

    July 14, 2008