One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A person supposedly able to judge character (or, formerly, to predict the future) from facial characteristics.
- ‘For this reason, the ancient physiognomists looked at the study of the eyes as a fundamental task to ascertain or describe a person's character.’
- ‘It's a finding that would please physiognomists of the 1800s, who thought facial attributes revealed human character.’
- ‘There were coffee houses which offered fortune tellers, palmists, physiognomists, job counselors and origami instructors.’
- ‘Lavater, who wrote fragments on physiognomy, and who styles himself a fragment of a physiognomist, maintains that physiognomy exists as a true science.’
- ‘If such a prostitute gave birth to a child, they collected some money for her and they called in a physiognomist to determine the father of that child.’
- ‘I raised myself to a more upright position befitting a solemn physiognomist and a counseller and leaned forward.’
- ‘In sum, physiognomists recognized the face as an index of emotion and character; and physiognomy offered a way of conceptualizing these particular observations in terms of general categories or theories.’
- ‘In this circumscribed area, then, it may be surmised how the great physiognomists - and collectors are the physiognomists of the world of objects - turn into interpreters of fate.’
Late 16th century: from Old French physionomiste.
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