• (GA) IPA: /kəmˈplɛkʃən/

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 Qveene. […], London: Printed [by John Wolfe] for VVilliam Ponsonbie, OCLC 960102938 ↗, book III, canto X:
      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 |||tr=|brackets=|subst=|lit=|nocat=1|footer=}}|}}
      “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
    • 1596-99?, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, act II, scene i:
      Prince of Morocco: Mislike me not for my complexion, / The shadow’d livery of the burnish’d sun, / To whom I am a neighbour, and near bred. [...]
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 639762314 ↗, page 0108 ↗:
      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.
  5. (loanword, especially in scientific works translated from German) An arrangement.
    • 1909, Ludwig Boltzmann, translated by Kim Sharp and Franz Matschinsky
      Second there is the level at which the energy or velocity components of each molecule are specified. He calls this a Komplexion, which we translate literally as complexion.
Synonyms Related terms Translations Verb

complexion (complexions, present participle complexioning; past and past participle complexioned)

  1. (transitive) To give a colour to.
    • 2003, Leland Krauth, Mark Twain & Company: Six Literary Relations (page 118)
      From the pale refinement of her genteel heroine to the sallow complexioning of poor white trash, Stowe colors her narrative with the hues of the body.

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