[fiz-ee-og-nuh-mee, -on-uh-mee]
noun, plural physiognomies.
the face or countenance, especially when considered as an index to the character: a fierce physiognomy.
Also called anthroposcopy. the art of determining character or personal characteristics from the form or features of the body, especially of the face.
the outward appearance of anything, taken as offering some insight into its character: the physiognomy of a nation.

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

physiognomic [fiz-ee-og-nom-ik, ‐ee-uh-nom] , physiognomical, physiognomonic [fiz-ee-og-nuh-mon-ik, ‐on-uh] , physiognomonical, adjective
physiognomically, physiognomonically, adverb
physiognomist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
physiognomy (ˌfɪzɪˈɒnəmɪ)
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
[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 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

late 14c., "art of judging characters from facial features," from L.L. physiognomia, from Gk. physiognomia "the judging of a person's nature by his features," from physio-, comb. form of physis "nature" (see physic) + gnomon (gen. gnomonos) "judge, indicator."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

physiognomy phys·i·og·no·my (fĭz'ē-ŏg'nə-mē, -ŏn'ə-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.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


the study of the systematic correspondence of psychological characteristics to facial features or body structure. Because most efforts to specify such relationships have been discredited, physiognomy sometimes connotes pseudoscience or charlatanry. Physiognomy was regarded by those who cultivated it both as a mode of discriminating character by the outward appearance and as a method of divination from form and feature.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
His face, not yet entirely craggy, revealed traces of the handsome physiognomy
  of his youth.
For years physiognomy—the idea that a person's face is a reflection of
  his character—was sneered at.
Yet today, we all recognize him and associate his physiognomy with his music.
But the physiognomy alone was not enough to prove a match.
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