Date: 1200-1300
Language: Old French
Origin: Latin facies 'form, face', from facere 'to make'


1 noun
face1 S1 W1 [countable]

front of your head

HBH the front part of your head, where your eyes, nose, and mouth are:
She had a beautiful face.
Her face was white with fear.
A big smile spread across his face.
I could see from the look on her face that something was wrong.
I felt like punching him in the face.
! Something is on someone's face, not in their face: You've got a mark on your face.


an expression on someone's faceCOLLOCATIONS COLLOCATIONS
a long face (=an unhappy expression) pull/make a face (=change your expression to make people laugh or to show you are angry, disappointed etc) a blank face (=an expression that shows you do not know or recognize something) a face like thunder (=a very angry expression) somebody's face lights up/brightens (=they start to look happy) somebody's face falls (=they start to look unhappy) somebody's face darkens (=they start to look angry or threatening) see something in somebody's face show in somebody's face something is written all over somebody's face (=something is obvious from someone's expression) you should have seen his/her face spoken (=used to say that someone was very angry, surprised etc) the look/expression on somebody's face a smile/grin/frown etc on somebody's face
the children's happy faces
I'll never forget my father's face - I'd never seen him so upset before.
What's the long face for?
Emma was making faces at me through the window.
Judging from her blank face, I'd say she didn't know what we were talking about.
Mr Neeson came striding towards us with a face like thunder.
David's face lit up when I mentioned her name.
Her face fell and I thought she might burst into tears.
Tom's face darkened and he turned angrily on Sam.
They were glad he was there. He could see it in their faces.
The disappointment was written all over his face.
You should have seen Gary's face when I told him I was resigning.
He had a surprised, slightly puzzled look on his face.
Sally watched him with a smile on her face.

keep a straight face

to not laugh or smile, even though something is funny

pale-faced/round-faced etc

having a face that has a particular shape or colour:
a pale-faced youth

grim-faced/serious-faced etc

showing a particular expression on your face:
Negotiators emerged grim-faced after the day's talks.
barefaced, po-faced, poker-faced, stony-faced


a person
new/different face (=someone who you have not seen before)
There are a few new faces in class this year.
Gordon is a familiar face (=someone who you know or have seen many times before) at the Shrewsbury Flower Show.
It's the same old faces (=people who you see often, especially too often) at our meetings every week.
famous/well-known face (=someone who is famous from television, magazines, films etc)
She looked around at the sea of faces (=lots of people seen together) in the cafeteria.

face to face

a) if two people are standing face to face, they are very close and are looking at each other
meet somebody/talk to somebody/explain something etc face to face (=to meet someone and talk to them, instead of just hearing about them, talking to them on the phone etc)
I've never met her face to face.
'You could have just phoned.' 'I wanted to explain things face to face.'
come face to face/find yourself face to face with somebody (=to meet someone, especially in a way that surprises or frightens you)
At that moment he came face to face with Sergeant Burke.
The two men stood face to face without a word.
b) if you come face to face with something difficult, you experience it and have to deal with it:
It was the first time he'd ever come face to face with death.
bring somebody face to face with something
Sometimes one is brought face to face with facts which cannot be ignored.

say something/tell somebody something to their face

if you say something unpleasant to someone's face, you say it to them directly, rather than to other people:
I told him to his face just what I thought of him.

face down/downwards

with the face or front towards the ground:
Keith was lying face down on the bed.

face up/upwards

with the face or front towards the sky:
The body was lying face up in the rain.

in the face of something

in a situation where there are many problems, difficulties, or dangers:
It is amazing how Daniels has survived in the face of such strong opposition from within the party.

on the face of it

used to say that something seems true but that you think there may be other facts about it which are not yet clear:
It looks, on the face of it, like a minor change in the regulations.
On the face of it, his suggestion makes sense.

the face of something

a) the nature or character of an organization, industry, system etc, and the way it appears to people:
technology that has changed the face of society
Is this the new face of the Tory party?
the ugly/unacceptable/acceptable face of something (=the qualities of an organization, industry etc which people find unacceptable or acceptable)
the unacceptable face of capitalism
b) the general appearance of a particular place:
the changing face of the landscape


the face of a mountain, cliff etc is a steep vertical surface or side
face of
He fell and died while attempting to climb the north face of Mont Blanc.
The cliff face was starting to crumble into the sea.
a sheer (=very steep) rock face


TMC the front part of a clock or watch, where the numbers and hands are

lose face

if you lose face, you do something which makes you seem weak, stupid etc, and which makes people respect you less:
He doesn't want to back down (=accept defeat in an argument) and risk losing face.

save face

if you do something to save face, you do it so that people will not lose their respect for you:
Both countries saved face with the compromise.

disappear/vanish from/off the face of the earth

used to say that you have no idea where someone is and have not seen them in a very long time:
I haven't seen Paul in ages; he seems to have vanished off the face of the earth.

on the face of the earth

used when you are emphasizing a statement to mean 'in the whole world':
If she was the last woman on the face of the earth, I still wouldn't be interested!

somebody's face doesn't fit

used to say that someone will not get or keep a particular job because they are not the kind of person that the employer wants

set your face against something

especially British English to be very determined that something should not happen:
The local Labour Party has set its face against the scheme.


TI the part of a mine from which coal, stone etc is cut coalface

outside surface

TBB one of the outside surfaces of an object or building:
A cube has six faces.


DS the part of a racket or bat etc that you use to hit the ball

in your face

in yer face British English spoken informal behaviour, criticisms, remarks etc that are in your face are very direct and often shocking or surprising:
Bingham has a very 'in your face' writing style.

get in somebody's face

spoken informal if someone gets in your face, they really annoy you

get out of my face

spoken informal used to tell someone in an impolite way to go away because they are annoying you

what's his face/what's her face

spoken informal used as a way of talking about someone when you cannot remember their name:
I saw old what's his face in school yesterday.

put your face on

informalDCB to put make-up on:
I just need to run upstairs and put my face on.

➔ blow up in somebody's face

at blow up (7)

; ➔ put on a brave face

at brave1 (3)

; ➔ do something till you're blue in the face

at blue1 (4)

; ➔ have egg on your face

at egg1 (5), face-to-face

; ➔ fly in the face of

at fly1 (18)

; ➔ laugh in somebody's face

at laugh1 (11)

; ➔ long face

at long1 (12)

; ➔ not just a pretty face

at pretty2 (4)

; ➔ show your face

at show1 (15)

; ➔ shut your face

at shut1 (2)

; ➔ a slap in the face

at slap2 (2)

; ➔ be staring somebody in the face

at stare1 (2)

; ➔ a straight face

at straight2 (8)

; ➔ wipe something off the face of the earth

at wipe1 (8)

; ➔ wipe the smile/grin off somebody's face

at wipe1 (7)

; ➔ have something written all over your face

at write (10)

in front, opposite, face
If something or someone is in front of a building, they are directly outside the front of it Meet me in front of the station.If something or someone is opposite a building, they are outside the front of it on the other side of a street, area of land etc the fields opposite the schoolUse the verb face to say that a building has something outside the front of it My apartment block faces (NOT is in front of) the sea. a house facing the square
in front of, before
!! Use in front of not 'before', to talk about doing something so that people can see or hear you I had to explain myself in front of (NOT before) the whole class.!! Use before, not 'in front of',to talk about the order in which things happen Before starting (NOT In front of starting), let's list what we have to do.See also front

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