English edit

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Etymology edit

Inherited from Middle English phisonomie, from Anglo-Norman phisenomie, Middle French phisonomie et al., ultimately from Late Latin physiognomia, from Ancient Greek φυσιογνωμονία (phusiognōmonía, the science or art of judging a man by his features), from φύσις (phúsis, physique, appearance) + γνώμων (gnṓmōn, one that knows or examines, an interpreter, discerner).

Middle English phisonomie would regularly develop into *physnomy /ˈfɪznəmi/ (forms of this type are common in Early Modern English, such as fisnomie in All's Well that Ends Well); the modern spelling and pronunciation are due to learned influence.

Pronunciation edit

  • (UK) IPA(key): /fɪziˈɒnəmi/, (obsolete) /fɪziˈɒɡnəmi/
  • (file)
  • (US, Canada) IPA(key): /fɪziˈɑ(ɡ)nəmi/

Noun edit

physiognomy (countable and uncountable, plural physiognomies)

  1. 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.
  2. The face or countenance, with respect to the temper of the mind; particular configuration, cast, or expression of countenance, as denoting character.
  3. The art of telling fortunes by inspection of the features.
  4. The general appearance or aspect of a thing, without reference to its scientific characteristics.
    the physiognomy of a plant; of a meteor

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