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[fiz-ee-og-nuh-mee, -on-uh-mee] /ˌfɪz iˈɒg nə mi, -ˈɒn ə mi/
noun, plural physiognomies.
the face or countenance, especially when considered as an index to the character:
a fierce physiognomy.
Also called anthroposcopy. the art of determining character or personal characteristics from the form or features of the body, especially of the face.
the outward appearance of anything, taken as offering some insight into its character:
the physiognomy of a nation.
Origin of physiognomy
late Middle English
1350-1400; earlier phisognomie, phisiognomie, late Middle English phisonomie < Medieval Latin physionomia, physonomia < Late Greek physiognōmía, syncopated variant of Greek physiognōmonía art of judging a person by his features (see physio-, gnomon, -y3); replacing Middle English fisenamie, fisnamie, fisnomie < Middle French fisonomie < Medieval Latin, as above; cf. phiz
Related forms
[fiz-ee-og-nom-ik, ‐ee-uh-nom‐] /ˌfɪz i ɒgˈnɒm ɪk, ‐i əˈnɒm‐/ (Show IPA),
physiognomical, physiognomonic
[fiz-ee-og-nuh-mon-ik, ‐on-uh‐] /ˌfɪz iˌɒg nəˈmɒn ɪk, ‐ˌɒn ə‐/ (Show IPA),
physiognomonical, adjective
physiognomically, physiognomonically, adverb
physiognomist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for physiognomies


a person's features or characteristic expression considered as an indication of personality
the art or practice of judging character from facial features
the outward appearance of something, esp the physical characteristics of a geographical region
Derived Forms
physiognomic (ˌfɪzɪəˈnɒmɪk), physiognomical, adjective
physiognomically, adverb
physiognomist, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French phisonomie, via Medieval Latin, from Late Greek phusiognōmia, erroneous for Greek phusiognōmonia, from phusis nature + gnōmōn judge
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for physiognomies



late 14c., "art of judging characters from facial features," from Old French phizonomie and directly from Late Latin physiognomia, from Greek physiognomia "the judging of a person's nature by his features," from physio- (see physio-) + gnomon (genitive gnomonos) "judge, indicator" (see gnomon). Meaning "face, countenance, features" is from c.1400. Related: Physiognomical.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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physiognomies in Medicine

physiognomy phys·i·og·no·my (fĭz'ē-ŏg'nə-mē, -ŏn'ə-mē)

  1. Facial features, especially when considered as an indicator of character or as a factor in diagnosis.

  2. Estimation of one's character and mental qualities by a study of the face and general bodily carriage.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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