physiognomy

noun

phys·​i·​og·​no·​my ˌfi-zē-ˈä(g)-nə-mē How to pronounce physiognomy (audio)
plural physiognomies
1
: the art of discovering temperament and character from outward appearance
2
: the facial features held to show qualities of mind or character by their configuration or expression
3
: external aspect
also : inner character or quality revealed outwardly

Examples of physiognomy in a Sentence

He and his son have the same distinctive physiognomy.
Recent Examples on the Web Her husband would catch her staring clinically at his physiognomy. Dan Piepenbring, Harper's Magazine, 9 Jan. 2024 And, of course, there was the perennial punch line of physiognomy: sight gags, sketches, and songs that depicted Jewish bodies as misshapen and absurd. Jody Rosen, The New Yorker, 7 Oct. 2023 Meanwhile, a younger generation has brought new shades of irony to riffs on Jewish identity and physiognomy. Jody Rosen, The New Yorker, 7 Oct. 2023 Eliza, who does not seem to belong there at all, is also hot — hotter than Petey’s former best friend, for even in cartoons, physiognomy is destiny. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 21 July 2023 The physiognomies of Sergius of Radonezh and Joseph Stalin upon its wings! Vladimir Sorokin, Harper's Magazine, 13 July 2022 Also, there had been slightly hazy security-cam shots of him fleeing the subway attack, and the height and physiognomy and hair all seemed to match. Han Ong, The New Yorker, 9 Jan. 2023 The Ichthyosaurus shares some traits with a dolphin, as both creatures have the same physiognomy and similar birthing techniques. Dana Givens, Robb Report, 5 Dec. 2022 That Quest Pro headset has five cameras that scan a user’s physiognomy to make their avatar show their expressions in real time. Steven Levy, WIRED, 14 Oct. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'physiognomy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English phisonomie, from Anglo-French phisenomie, from Late Latin physiognomonia, physiognomia, from Greek physiognōmonia, from physiognōmōn judging character by the features, from physis nature, physique, appearance + gnōmōn interpreter — more at gnomon

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of physiognomy was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near physiognomy

Cite this Entry

“Physiognomy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/physiognomy. Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

physiognomy

noun
phys·​i·​og·​no·​my ˌfiz-ē-ˈä(g)-nə-mē How to pronounce physiognomy (audio)
plural physiognomies
: facial features or expression thought to reveal qualities of mind or character

Medical Definition

physiognomy

noun
phys·​i·​og·​no·​my ˌfiz-ē-ˈä(g)-nə-mē How to pronounce physiognomy (audio)
plural physiognomies
1
: the art of discovering temperament and character from outward appearance
2
: the facial features held to show qualities of mind or character by their configuration or expression
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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