[fri-nol-uh-jee, fre-]


a psychological theory or analytical method based on the belief that certain mental faculties and character traits are indicated by the configurations of the skull.

Origin of phrenology

An Americanism dating back to 1795–1805; phreno- + -logy
Related formsphren·o·log·ic [fren-l-oj-ik] /ˌfrɛn lˈɒdʒ ɪk/, phren·o·log·i·cal, adjectivephren·o·log·i·cal·ly, adverbphre·nol·o·gist, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for phrenologist

Historical Examples of phrenologist

  • This puzzled him, as he did not know she was a phrenologist.

  • A phrenologist would have delighted in the study of that remarkable head.

  • A phrenologist, who examined my head when I was a boy, said the two sides were unlike.

    Over the Teacups

    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

  • Among the people they met in the autumn of 1844 was Professor Fowler, the phrenologist.

    Julia Ward Howe

    Laura E. Richards

  • My mother said it was inside and that the phrenologist meant I must be a good boy.

British Dictionary definitions for phrenologist



(formerly) the branch of science concerned with localization of function in the human brain, esp determination of the strength of the faculties by the shape and size of the skull overlying the parts of the brain thought to be responsible for them
Derived Formsphrenological (ˌfrɛnəˈlɒdʒɪkəl), adjectivephrenologist, noun
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

Word Origin and History for phrenologist



1815, literally "mental science," from phreno- + -logy "study of." Applied to the theory of mental faculties originated by Gall and Spurzheim that led to the 1840s mania for reading personality clues in the shape of one's skull and the "bumps" of the head. Related: Phrenological; phrenologist.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

phrenologist in Medicine




The study of the shape and protuberances of the skull, based on the now discredited belief that they reveal character and mental capacity.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.