Physiognomy and the art of face reading


Physiognomy is the belief that you can look at someone’s facial features and get a sneak peak into their personality. You’ve heard of palm reading – but what about face reading? Gaze into a mirror and your face!

You may not be able to divine someone’s future by the shape of their nose or by the width of their chin, but those versed in the art of face reading, or physiognomy, believe you might be able to get a glimpse of what makes them tick. Even though it is wrong to judge a book by its cover, it’s interesting to explore the pseudoscience of physiognomy… Who doesn’t love a bit of pseudoscience?

What is phsyiognomy?

Definition from


Pronunciation: ?fi -ze -‘ä(g) -n? -me

Function: noun

Inflected Form(s): plural phys·i·og·no·mies

1 : the art of discovering temperament and character from outward appearance

2 : the facial features held to show qualities of mind or character by their configuration or expression

3 : external aspect; also : inner character or quality revealed outwardly

A little history of phsyiognomy

It’s hard to tell when people began trying to pick out characteristics with facial features, but the earliest accounts go back to the 16th century. In 1586, a man named Giovanni Battista della Porta put together an illustrated book called De Humana Physiognomonia, which is the earilest known publication on physiognomy. The belief goes back further into the middle ages and beyond.

Physiognomy has been discredited in modern times and much of what used to be believed is now forgotten. It is considered a “pseudoscience” (a discipline that has all the trappings of science but none of the rigour and/or evidential proof).

Face reading 101: Look in the mirror

Here is a list of facial features and the meanings that they are popularly thought to have. Get yourself a mirror and mark down the ones that you have – then see for yourself if physiognomy’s age-old beliefs are true with you.

  • Rectangular face – Strong leadership skills.
  • Thick eyebrows – A strong-willed person.
  • Upturned chin – Stubborn.
  • Small nose – Reserved or shy.
  • Broad forehead – Creative & imaginative.
  • Brows w/ little arch – Thinks things through before acting.
  • Earlobes attached to face – Attached to family.
  • Narrow chin – Private person, emotional.
  • Rounded face – Cheerful, good at cheering others.
  • Long thin nose – Well-mannered and socially graceful.
  • Deep set eyes – Introvert.
  • Naturally arched eyebrows – Very sexually-natured.
  • Long eyebrows – A people person, enjoys lots of friends.
  • Protruding forehead – Big imagination.
  • Broad base on nose – Enjoys lots of material things.
  • Unevenly-set eyes – Sees life in a unique way.
  • Knob on the end of the nose – Loves beauty, art and the finer things.
  • Upturned mouth – Eternal optimist.
  • Detached earlobes – Considers friends as part of the family.
  • Thick eyebrows – Very energetic and passionate.
  • Naturally arched eyebrows show someone is more of a do-er.
  • The larger the nose the more powerful your personality is.
  • Square Jaw – Strength of character and resolve.
  • Full lips – Inspires others, enthusiastic.
  • Thin lips – Impatience.
  • Cupid’s Bow – Creative and innovative.
  • Natural unibrow – Possessive.