complexion

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See also: complexión

English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Middle English complexion (temperament), from Old French complexion, French complexion, from Latin complexio (a combination, connection, period), from complecti, past participle complexus (to entwine, encompass)

Noun[edit]

complexion (plural complexions)

  1. (obsolete, medicine) The combination of humours making up one's physiological "temperament", being either hot or cold, and moist or dry.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.10:
      Ne ever is he wont on ought to feed / But todes and frogs, his pasture poysonous, / Which in his cold complexion doe breed / A filthy blood […].
  2. The quality, colour, or appearance of the skin on the face.
    a rugged complexion;  a sunburnt complexion
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter 1, The Purchase Price:
      This new-comer was a man who in any company would have seemed striking. In complexion fair, and with blue or gray eyes, he was tall as any Viking, as broad in the shoulder.
  3. (figuratively) The outward appearance of something.
  4. Outlook, attitude, or point of view.
    • 1844, E. A. Poe, Marginalia
      But the purely marginal jottings, done with no eye to the Memorandum Book, have a distinct complexion, and not only a distinct purpose, but none at all; this it is which imparts to them a value.

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