an identity photo


mug shot = Porträtfoto, erkennungsdienstliches Foto; Verbrecherfoto, Fahndungsfoto



"Donald Trump and the history of the MUGSHOT. The former president finally gets his close-up. The image will join the ranks of celebrity MUGSHOTS: famous faces in turns defiant, dejected, drunk, smirking or sulking."

The Economist — (24th August 2023)

“Muslim woman forced to take off hijab for police MUGSHOT or stay in jail, lawsuit says.”

Julia Marnin — Miami Herald (31st August 2023)

Did you

mug shot (also written as mugshot)
noun phrase

- a photograph of usually a person's head and especially face; specifically: a police photograph of a suspect's face or profile



“Mug” meaning “a person's mouth or face” is from 1708, possibly based on the old drinking mugs shaped like grotesque faces, popular in England from the 17th century.

A typical mug shot is two-part, with one side-view photo, and one front-view. The background is usually stark and simple, to avoid distraction from the facial image. Mug shots may be compiled into a mug book in order to determine the identity of a criminal. In high-profile cases, mug shots may also be published in the mass media.

The earliest photos of prisoners taken for use by law enforcement may have been taken in Belgium in 1843 and 1844. In the United Kingdom, police in Liverpool and Birmingham were photographing criminals by 1848. By 1857, the New York City Police Department had a gallery where daguerreotypes of criminals were displayed.

The sense of "portrait or photograph in police records" had emerged by 1873.

By the mid-20th century it became required that the arrested person hold a placard with name, date of birth, booking ID, weight, and other relevant information on it.


- a mug's game = a situation or activity that is futile or likely to result in failure

- mug's eyeful = a long, attentive look at someone or something, often implying interest or admiration

- mug up (on) = to study or review intensively, especially before an exam or important event

- mug for the camera: to pose or make exaggerated facial expressions when being photographed

- muggins = a stupid person: often used to describe yourself when you have done something silly or when you feel you are being treated unfairly

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“If you like photography, a great book to read is ‘Under Arrest: A History of the Twentieth Century in MUGSHOTS’ published by Granta Books.”

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