Mug shots

An ugly mug on a mug

When listening to the Answer Me This podcast today I heard some discussion of mug shots, which got me thinking about the origins of that name.

According to Wiktionary, a mug shot (or mugshot) is:

1. A photograph taken of the head and shoulders, often from the front and in profile, usually taken in conjunction with somebody’s arrest.

2. An unflattering photograph of a person’s face (Britain slang)

The police mug shot is also known as a police photograph or booking photograph. According to Wikipedia, “Photographing of criminals began in the 1840s only a few years after the invention of photography, but it was not until 1888 that French police officer Alphonse Bertillon standardized the process.”

Mug is a slang word for face and shot comes from snapshot, another word for photograph, especially one taken quickly.

The origins of the word mug are uncertain, but its use as a slang word for face possibly comes from the grotesque faces on some drinking vessels.

Are there other interesting words for face in English or other languages?

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