complexion

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See also: complexión and complex ion

English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English complexion (temperament), from Old French complexion, French complexion, from Latin complexiō (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 [].
    • “Indeed, sir,” answered the lady, with some warmth, “I cannot think there is anything easier than to cheat an old woman with a profession of love, when her complexion is amorous; and, though she is my aunt, I must say there never was a more liquorish one than her ladyship. []
  2. The quality, colour, or appearance of the skin on the face.
    a rugged complexion;  a sunburnt complexion
    • 1915, Emerson Hough, The Purchase Price, chapterI:
      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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Further reading[edit]


Old French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

First known attestation circa 1120[1], borrowing from Latin complexiō.

Noun[edit]

complexion f (oblique plural complexions, nominative singular complexion, nominative plural complexions)

  1. (medicine) complexion (combination of humours making up one's physiological "temperament")

References[edit]

  1. ^ complexion” in le Trésor de la langue française informatisé (The Digitized Treasury of the French Language).