Old-Fashioned Views on How Appearance Determined Personality

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What color hair do you have? What about your eyes? Find out your old-fashioned personality traits according to your appearance!

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Judging by this document published in Brookfield, Massachusetts in 1816, a bushy eyebrow shows you to be quarrelsome and blue eyes prove that you’re good-natured! Take a look at this analysis of personalities from 1816!

Here at the Almanac, we’re always interested in history. For example, the way people looked was originally considered indicative of personalities. Just think about how a typical villain has a stooped back and dark hair, while the hero is perhaps tall and strong with fair hair. Centuries ago, people would determine certain emotions, desires, and skills based on their physical traits—to the extreme! Look back to the early 1800’s …

Personality Based on Hair:

  • A man with very black and smooth hair that hangs far over his shoulders is mild but resolute; cool until greatly provoked; not inclined to excess of any kind, but may be persuaded to it; constant in his attachments; faithful and affectionate to his family; not addicted to lewdness, though sensible of and submissive to the empire of love; he will be prosperous in his undertakings, and not liable to many misfortunes.

  • A woman with the same kind of hair is moderate in her desires of every kind; temperate in her diet; addicted to reflection; steady in her resolution and, though not subject to violence in love, is no enemy to its pleasures, and steady in her attachment; of a constitution neither vigorous nor yet feeble.

  • A man with very black, short, and curling hair will be given to liquor; somewhat quarrelsome; of an unsettled temper; more amorous and less steady in his undertakings, though ardent at the beginning of an enterprise; he will be very desirous of riches, but in general miss his aim, and be subject to much discontent. The same may be said of a woman.

  • A man with dark brown, long, and smooth hair is generally of a robust constitution; obstinate in temper; eager in his pursuits; a lover of the other sex; fond of variety in his ordinary pursuits; exceedingly curious and of a flexible disposition; in his amusements very fickle; will not continue long attached to the same woman unless she takes extraordinary pains to please him; he will live long, unless guilty of early intemperance.

  • A woman with the same kind of hair will be nearly the same as the man, but more steady in her conduct and attachments, especially in love; she will be of a good constitution, have many cihldren, be much respected, and enjoy good health and a reasonable share of happiness.

  • If the hair is short and bushy it will make very little alteration in man or woman, but the man will be more forward to srike when angered, and the woman will be more of a scold.

  • A man with light brown, long, smooth hair is of a peaceable, even, and rather generous temper; will prevent mischief if in his power, but when provoked will strike furiously, is sorry for his passion, and soon appeased; he is strongly attached to women, and will prtect them from any insult; he will be desirous of having money, more to do good than for the sake of hoarding; if he is guilty of infidelity to his wife, it will be very discreetly; upon the whole, he is in general an amiable character, affable, and kind.

  • A woman with the same kind of hair is tender-hearted, but hasty in her temper; neither obstinate nor haughty; her inclinations to love never unreasonable; her constitution will be good; but she will be seldom very fortunate.


  • If the hair is short, bushy, and apt to curl by nature, the man will be more industrious, and the woman more sedentary.

  • A man with fair hair will be of a weak constitution, his mind much given to reflection, especially on religious matters; he will be assiduous in his occupation but not given to rambling; very moderate in his amorous wishes; and must take great pains to live to a middling age.

  • A woman with fair hair is, on the contrary, of good constitution; never to be diverted from her purposes; very passionate in love affairs; never easy unless when in company, and delights in hearing herself praised, especially for beauty; delights in dancing, romping, and violent exercises; and commonly lives to a great age.

  • A man with long red hair is cunning, artful, and deceitful; he is very much addicted to traffic of some kind, restless in his disposition, constantly roving, if he possibly can indulge himself in the desire; oftener desirous of the pleasures of love than capable of indulging himself in them; greedy of getting money, he will often spend foolishly; is indefatigable in everything he undertakes, no obstacle will induce him to forsake his enterprise until he has seen the issue of it; he is by nature rather inclined to timidity and dread of pain, but by reflection may correct it and pass for a man of courage.

  • A woman with the same kind of hair is glib of tongue, having words at will, talkative, and vain; her temper is impatient and fiery, and will not easily bear contradiction; she has a constant flow of spirits, and is excessively given to the pleasures of love; however delicate her person may seem, her constitution is generally vigorous, but she seldom lives to old age; her promise is seldom to be depended upon, because the next object that engrosses her attention makes her forgetful of everything that preceded it; she will give nothing without a valuable consideration; and, lastly, will resent any disappointment she may meet with.

Personality Based on Baldness:

  • If the hair falls off at the front of the head, the person will be easily led, though otherwise rational, and will often find himself duped when he thinks he is acting right; he will frequently meet with disappointments in money matters, which will either hurt his credit or force him to contract his expenses.

  • If the hair falls off behind, he will be obstinate, peevish, passionate, and fond of commanding others, though he has no right, and will grow angry if his advice is not followed, however preposterous; he will be fond of hearing and telling old stories and tales of ghosts and other incredible things; but he will be a domestic man and provide for his family to the utmost.

  • If the hair forms an arch around the forehead, without being much indented at the temples, both man and woman will be innocent, credulous, peaceable, fond of good eating but without excess, moderate in all their desires; and though not ardent in their pursuits, will still be perservering; they will be mild, modest, and good-natured, moderately prosperous, but not very long-lived.

  • If the hair is very indented at the temples, the person will be selfish and designing, of a surly disposition, unsociable, and given to drinking; he will be addicted to avarice, and will not spend unless he expects to gain by it; his mind will be always intent upon the means of carrying on his schemes; he will not live to be of a great age.


Personality Based on Eyebrows:

  • If the eyebrow is very hairy, and that hair long and curled, with several of the hairs starting out, the man or woman is of a gloomy disposition, litigious, and quarrelsome but rather cowardly; greedy after the affairs of this world, perpetually brooding over some melancholy subject, and not an agreeable companion; he will be diffident, penurious, and weak in his understanding.

  • If the eyebrow is thick and even, that is, without any or few starting hairs, the man or woman will be of an agreeable temper, of a sound understanding, and tolerable wit.

  • If the eyebrow is small, thin of hair, and even, the man or woman will be weak-minded, timorous, superficial, and not to be depended on; heor she will be desirous of knowledge, but will not have patience and assiduity enough to give it the necessary attention.

  • If the eyebrow is thick of hair towards the nose, and goes off suddenly, very thin, ending in a point, the people will be surly, captious, jealous, fretful, and easily provoked to rage; they will pursue whatever they undertake with violence until they meet with some great obstacle, and then they will abandon it entirely.

Personality Based on Eyes:

  • The eye that is large, full, prominent, and clear, denotes a man or woman to be of an ingenious and candid disposition, void of deceit, and of an even, agreeable, and affable disposition; he or she will have several children, but more girls than boys, and will be careful in educating and providing for them.

  • The eye that is small, but advanced in the head, shows the man or woman to be of a quick wit, sound constitution, lively genius, agreeable in conversation, and of good morals; but inclined to jealousy, though never without some foundation.

  • The man or woman whose eyes are sunken is of a jealous, distrustful, malicious, and envious nature; deceitful and hypocritical in words and actions, never to be depended upon; will take more pleasure in lewd love than in that which is lawful; he or she will have many children, whom he or she will, if possible, avoid providing for during his or her own lifetime.

  • The man or woman who squints, or has his or her eyes turned awry, will be of a penurious disposition, but punctual in his or her dealings, more for the sake of gaining the character of an honest person than from any innate principle.


  • People with black eyes are lively, brisk, and penetrating; of a sprightly wit, lively conversation, not easily imposed upon, and of a sound understanding; but if taken on the weak side may be led astray for a while; their greatest foible, if it can be called one, will be the passion of love, in which they scarcely keep bounds.

  • A hazel eye shows people to be of a subtle, piercing, and frolicsome disposition, rather inclined to be arch, and something mischievous; great jokers, and will often offend their friends for the sake of a jest, but good-natured at the bottom; they will be strongly inclined to love, and not over delicate in the means of gratifying that propensity.

  • A blue eye shows people to be of a meek and gentle temper, affable and good-natured, credulous and incapable of violent attachments; even, modest, cool, and undisturbed by turbulent passions.

  • A gray eye denotes people to be of weak intellect, devoid of wit, but plain plodding downright drudges, that will act as they are spirited up by others; and will rather submit to than desire the pleasures of love.

  • A red eye denotes people to be selfish, deceitul, proud, furious in the passion of anger; fertile in the invention of plots, and indefatigable in resolution to bring them to bear; they are ardent in love, but strongly attached to the first object that catches their fancy; they will have many children and live to see old age.

Personality Based on Noses:

  • A nose that comes even on the ridge, flat on the sides, with little or no hollow between the eyes, declares the person to be sulky, insolent, disdainful, treacherous, and self-sufficient; if it has a point descending over the nostrils, he or she is avaricious, and unfeeling, vainglorious, superficial, and ignorant; yet endeavoring to impose himself or herself upon others as a person of knowledge.

  • A nose that rises with a sudden bulge a little below the eyes, and then falls again into a kind of hollow below, is petulant, boorish, and noisy.

  • The nose that is small, slender, and peaked shows the person to be of a fearful disposition, jealous, and fretful; he or she is lively in the pursuit of whatever he or she takes a liking to know, and curious.

  • The nose that is small, tapering, round in the nostrils, and cocked up shows the person to be ingenious, smart, of a quick apprehension, giddy, but generous rather to a fault.


Personality Based on Lips:

  • The lips that are thick, soft, and long announce the person to be of weak intellect, credulous, and slightly peevish, but by a little soothing easily brought back to good humor; he or she is strongly addicted to the pleasures of love, and scarcely moderate in his or her enjoyment of them.

  • The lips that are moderately plump and even declare the person to be good-humored, humane, sensible, judicious, and just.

  • The lips that are thin and sunk inwards denote the person to be of a subtle, resentful, and persevering disposition; everlasting in hatred.

Personality Based on Chins:

  • The chin that is round, with a hollow between it and the lip, shows the person to be of a good-humored disposition, kind and honest.

  • The chin that comes down flat, from the edge of the lip, and ends in a kind of chisel form, shows the person to be silly, credulous, jealous, ill-tempered, and greedy of unmerited honors and praise.

  • The chin that is pointed upwards shows people to be deeply given to contrivances, proportioned to their abilities in fortune, and understanding; however fairly they speak to you, never depend upon their friendship, as their purpose is only to make you subservient to their own designs.

The people of the good old days didn’t just have different opinions about what physical traits meant—they also had higher expectations for their children and strict rules on etiquette! It was almost a different world.

About The Author

Judson D. Hale Sr.

Jud Hale is the Editor Emeritus of The Old Farmer’s Almanac; Jud was the 12th editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac (since 1792!) and joined the parent company Yankee Publishing in 1958 as an Assistant Editor. Read More from Judson D. Hale Sr.

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