Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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(2,375 words)

1. Etymology and definition

The word physiognomy (German Physiognomik, Middle English fisnomy) is derived from Greek physiognomonikḗ téchne; it means the art of perceiving the total nature of a person’s body from outward signs (literally “perception according to nature”). While physiognomics is more concerned with the narrower field of corporeal signs, physiognomy as it developed in the late Middle Ages and early modern period should be und…

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Kanz, Roland and Sieglerschmidt, Jörn, “Physiognomy”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 25 September 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_025562>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20200721

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