• synonyms


[fiz-ee-og-nuh-mee, -on-uh-mee]
See more synonyms for physiognomy on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural phys·i·og·no·mies.
  1. the face or countenance, especially when considered as an index to the character: a fierce physiognomy.
  2. Also called anthroposcopy. the art of determining character or personal characteristics from the form or features of the body, especially of the face.
  3. the outward appearance of anything, taken as offering some insight into its character: the physiognomy of a nation.
Show More

Origin of physiognomy

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 formsphys·i·og·nom·ic [fiz-ee-og-nom-ik, ‐ee-uh-nom‐] /ˌfɪz i ɒgˈnɒm ɪk, ‐i əˈnɒm‐/, phys·i·og·nom·i·cal, phys·i·og·no·mon·ic [fiz-ee-og-nuh-mon-ik, ‐on-uh‐] /ˌfɪz iˌɒg nəˈmɒn ɪk, ‐ˌɒn ə‐/, phys·i·og·no·mon·i·cal, adjectivephys·i·og·nom·i·cal·ly, phys·i·og·no·mon·i·cal·ly, adverbphys·i·og·no·mist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for physiognomies

Historical Examples

  • Their physiognomies were such as inspire benevolence and command respect.

    The Man With The Broken Ear

    Edmond About

  • Generally their physiognomies are pleasing, but they cannot be said to have much character.

  • The talents of Bohemia were as diverse as the physiognomies of its citizens.

    Vie de Bohme

    Orlo Williams

  • To judge by their physiognomies, they ruled by brute force and craft.

    Cathedral Cities of Italy

    William Wiehe Collins

  • Things lose their individuality, and men their physiognomies.

    The Reform of Education

    Giovanni Gentile

British Dictionary definitions for physiognomies


  1. a person's features or characteristic expression considered as an indication of personality
  2. the art or practice of judging character from facial features
  3. the outward appearance of something, esp the physical characteristics of a geographical region
Show More
Derived Formsphysiognomic (ˌfɪzɪəˈnɒmɪk) or physiognomical, adjectivephysiognomically, adverbphysiognomist, 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

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.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

physiognomies in Medicine


(fĭz′ē-ŏgnə-mē, -ŏnə-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.
Show More
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.