Etymology
Advertisement

complexion (n.)

mid-14c., complexioun, "temperament, natural disposition of body or mind," from Old French complexion, complession "combination of humors," hence "temperament, character, make-up," from Latin complexionem (nominative complexio) "combination" (in Late Latin, "physical constitution"), from complexus "surrounding, encompassing," past participle of complecti "to encircle, embrace," in transferred use, "to hold fast, master, comprehend," from com "with, together" (see com-) + plectere "to weave, braid, twine, entwine," from PIE *plek-to-, suffixed form of root *plek- "to plait."

The Middle English sense is from the old medicine notion of bodily constitution or general nature resulting from blending of the four primary qualities (hot, cold, dry, moist) or humors (blood, phlegm, choler, black choler). The specific meaning "color or hue of the skin of the face" developed by mid-15c. In medieval physiology, the color of the face was believed to indicate temperament or health. The word rarely is used in the sense of "state of being complex."

updated on December 20, 2018

Advertisement
Advertisement
Definitions of complexion from WordNet
1
complexion (n.)
the coloring of a person's face;
Synonyms: skin color / skin colour
complexion (n.)
a combination that results from coupling or interlinking;
diphthongs are complexions of vowels
complexion (n.)
a point of view or general attitude or inclination;
a liberal political complexion
he altered the complexion of his times
complexion (n.)
texture and appearance of the skin of the face;
complexion (n.)
(obsolete) a combination of elements (of dryness and warmth or of the four humors) that was once believed to determine a person's health and temperament;
2
complexion (v.)
give a certain color to;
The setting sun complexioned the hills
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.