n. The identification of an individual based on biological traits, such as fingerprints, iris patterns, and facial features.

Example Citation:
"Magnetic cards and smartcards try to make it impractical to break a bank's systems. Biometrics takes this a stage further by making fraud almost impossible. Some part of an individual's body is used to verify that the correct person is making the transaction."
—Godfrey Nolan, "Playing cards for profit," The Irish Times, July 24, 1995

Earliest Citation:
"In contrast, some things are unique about an individual — voice, fingerprints, shape of a hand, signature (not only what it looks like but also how it is written). Scientists who are developing ways to measure these unique biological traits have created a new technology called biometrics that promises some useful tools for banking operations."
—Robert A. Reffelt, "Cost of Security Balances Risk," The American Banker, March 15, 1982

This sense of biometrics should not be confused with the much older sense, which refers to the application of statistical and mathematical methods for data analysis in the biological sciences. Also known as biometry, this sense of the term has been in the language since the early 1900s.

I also found a much older citation that uses the adjectival form biometric:

"Besides the systems based on fingerprints, one other biometric identification system is on the market: Identimat, which is based on the geometry of the human hand."
—"The whole hand," Business Week, August 16, 1976

Related Words: