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a combining form meaning “knowledge,” occurring in loanwords from Greek and used in combination with other elements of Greek origin: physiognomy.
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Origin of -gnomy

<Late Latin -gnōmia<Greek. See gnomon, -y3
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does -gnomy mean?

The combining form -gnomy is used like a suffix meaning “knowledge.” It is very occasionally used in scientific terms in fields now generally considered pseudoscience, especially in medicine.

The form -gnomy comes from Greek gnṓmōn, meaning “discerner” or “interpreter,” plus the noun-forming suffix -ia.

What are variants of -gnomy?

While -gnomy doesn’t have any variants, it is related to the combining forms -gnosis and -gnostic, as in diagnosis or diagnostic. Want to know more? Read our Words That Use articles on -gnosis or -gnostic.

Examples of -gnomy

An example of a word you may have encountered that features -gnomy is physiognomy, “the face or countenance, especially when considered as an index to the character.” The term for physiognomy ultimately comes from Greek physiognōmonía, which features the equivalent of the form -gnomy in that language.

The physio- part of the word is a combining form meaning “nature,” from Greek phýsis. The form -gnomy means “knowledge,” as we have already seen. Physiognomy literally translates to “knowledge of [one’s] nature,” in the sense of character.

What are some words that use the combining form -gnomy?

  • cheirognomy
  • craniognomy
  • pathognomy (using the equivalent form of -gnomy in Greek)
  • psychognomy

What are some other forms that -gnomy may be commonly confused with?

Break it down!

The combining form patho- means “disease.” With this in mind, what does pathognomy literally mean?