Why is a police booking photo called a "mug shot"?
OK, but how did a face come to be known as a "mug"? Over on the Wordsmith.org message boards, one post says: "According to Webb Garrison in " Why You Say It," beer mugs of the late 18th century were often shaped like human heads, and a not especially attractive person often bore a resemblance to a face on a mug. As a result, a face came to be called a mug."
A Word Detective column corroborates this: "It was common in the 17th and 18th centuries to decorate drinking mugs with grotesque caricatures of human faces, and by the early 1700's "mug" had become a popular slang term for "face."
Whatever the origin, we know one thing: Some mug shots are mandatory viewing
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