Word of the Day

Monday, August 04, 2003

physiognomy

\fiz-ee-OG-nuh-mee; -ON-uh-mee\ , noun;
1.
The art of discovering temperament and other characteristic qualities of the mind from the outward appearance, especially by the features of the face.
2.
The face or facial features, especially when regarded as indicating character.
3.
The general appearance or aspect of a thing.
Quotes:
According to the latest rumours, he is now immersed in the science of physiognomy, the divining of a person's character by the shape of their features, and is preparing a paper on the subject for the inaugural meeting of the Van Diemen's Land Scientific Society.
-- Tom Gilling, The Sooterkin
Pasteur seems to have been most interested in capturing the actual looks of his subjects, and his portraits form a gallery showing all kinds of physiognomies that are observed with almost clinical patience.
-- Patrice Debré, Louis Pasteur (translated by Elborg Forster)
Over my crib hung a piece of tin embossed with the stern physiognomies of Vladimir Ilich Lenin and Leon Trotsky.
-- William Herrick, Jumping the Line
It was an urban physiognomy different, Bourget thought, "from every other since the foundation of the world," an unvarying flatland of industrial neighborhoods that rolled on -- backward from the horizon -- for miles and miles until it climaxed in a silhouette of towers tightly wedged between river, rail lines, and lake.
-- Donald L. Miller, City of the Century
Origin:
Physiognomy comes from Greek physiognomonia, from physiognomon, "judging character by the features," from physis, "nature, physique, appearance" + gnomon, "one who knows, hence an examiner, a judge," from gignoskein, "to know."
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