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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