Definition of physiognomy in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˌfizēˈä(ɡ)nəmē/

noun (plural physiognomies)

1A person’s facial features or expression, especially when regarded as indicative of character or ethnic origin.
Example sentences
  • According to late medieval beliefs that went back to Aristotelian ideas, the exemplary characters of uomini famosi would have expressed themselves in their physiognomies and gestures as much as in their deeds.
  • A large number of pieces, for instance, have Asian features; their physiognomies were based on a Belgian Art Nouveau bust that he found in a flea market.
  • These dislocated physiognomies are searing psychic masks whose crazed features seem to express the artist's creative and psychological isolation.
face, features, countenance, expression, look, mien
informal mug, puss
literary visage, lineaments
1.1The supposed art of judging character from facial characteristics.
Example sentences
  • Yet what emerges after Aristotle is a complex relationship between the classical mode of reading and judging character - physiognomy - and the rise and triumph of inner, scientific understandings of expression based on physiology.
  • Many bigots and racists still use physiognomy to judge character and personality.
  • He used this time to study formal logic, social psychology, physiognomy, and craniometry, which laid the foundations of a broad approach in medicine.
1.2The general form or appearance of something: the physiognomy of the landscape
More example sentences
  • The opera houses of Charles Garnier in Paris and Gottfried Semper in Dresden are memorable precisely because their expressive physiognomy is a kind of exultant precis of the spaces and happenings within.
  • For the lovely Larghetto in II, Bilson gives each note its own character, even its own physiognomy.
  • The attempt to create the mirage of value through speculative activities independent of the production process had a profound effect on the character of American capitalism and the social physiognomy of its ruling elite.



Pronunciation: /ˌfizēəˈnämik/
Example sentences
  • If physiognomic responsibility is accepted then a number of attitudinal conditions must be met.
  • A physiognomic examination of Tung's face reveals his immense kindness.
  • Huston does show us how old Aunt Julia is, but he has chosen to make her singing match her physiognomic decay.


Pronunciation: /ˌfizēəˈnämək(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • The picture could be a physiognomical paradigm of a conspirator, a machinator, a schemer.
  • Likening these operations to practices in contemporary terms, Sekula argues that the device of the archive within apartheid became ‘the last physiognomical system of domination.’
  • From numerous observations it further results, that not the size only, but also the organic constitution of the cerebral parts, must be taken into consideration before physiognomical signs of the mental operations can be established.


Pronunciation: /ˌfizēəˈnämik(ə)lē/
Example sentences
  • Swainson's Warbler territories in Great Dismal Swamp were large and physiognomically complex.
  • Continually, medical and scientific researchers drew upon photographic techniques to try to position ‘deviant’ bodies as physiognomically distinct from ‘normal’ bodies.
  • No references were found that described a community dominated by this species, although a physiognomically similar community dominated by Viburnum lentago was described in Connecticut by Niering and Egler.


Late Middle English: from Old French phisonomie, via medieval Latin from Greek phusiognōmonia 'judging of a man's nature (by his features)', based on gnōmōn 'a judge, interpreter'.

Words that rhyme with physiognomy

agronomy, astronomy, autonomy, bonhomie, Deuteronomy, economy, gastronomy, heteronomy, metonymy, taxonomy

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: phys·i·og·no·my

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Related Words