A recent off-topic question on the worldbuilding stack here aroused my curiosity as to whether there might be a specific word that fits.

I'm looking for a word to describe "the non-medical interpretation, but mystical or religious attachment of meaning and significance to birthmarks".

The reading of tea-leaves is tasseography, the reading of entrails would be haruspicy or extispicy.

Dictionary searches around birthmarks keep leading to the word superstition.

belief that is not based on human reason or scientific knowledge, but is connected with old ideas about magic, etc.

Cambridge.org 2021

There are many websites referencing the reading and interpretation of birthmarks, none of which name the practice uniquely with a single word or phrase.

Is there a single word that describes the practice, beyond the generic one, superstition?

  • 2
    I'm inclined to trust your research that interpreting birthmarks has no special name. Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 15:30

1 Answer 1


maculomancy, moleomancy, or moleosophy are all occasionally encountered but none seems to have made it into the OED or most other dictionaries.

Wikipedia's article Moleosophy says "Moleosophy or moleomancy is a technique of divination and fortune telling based upon the observation and interpretation of bodily marks"; as the name suggests, it primarily refers to moles but can also be used of other marks.

Maculomancy is from the Latin "macula" meaning spot, speckle, stain, according to Wordsense; it doesn't have a Wikipedia page but is a redirect to moleosophy.

These words seem more or less confined to websites on the occult and divination, and to online dictionaries that accept user-submitted words. Perhaps not suitable for formal documents, but OK in casual writing.

Uses include the website Occult World which discusses maculomancy, and some occult books on Google Books, such as The Fortune-telling Book by Raymond Buckland.

The classic text on interpreting moles is On Moles by Melampus, but it doesn't appear to use any such word.

  • Splendid Stuart. I'd be surprised if this could be topped, yet it's given me an idea for more research. Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 17:38

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