a. The surface of the front of the head from the top of the forehead to the base of the chin and from ear to ear.
b. A person: We saw many new faces on the first day of classes.
2. A person's countenance: a happy face.
3. A contorted facial expression; a grimace: made a face at the prospect of eating lemons.
a. A countenance of a certain complexion or form. Used in combination: babyface; frogface.
b. A person having such a countenance. Used in combination: paleface.
a. Facial makeup: put one's face on.
b. Facial makeup of a certain color, usually worn for the purpose of impersonating or mocking people of a particular racial or ethnic group. Used in combination: applied blackface.
c. Assumed characteristics, such as clothing or behavior, intended to impersonate or mock people of a particular racial or ethnic group. Used in combination: dressing up in yellowface.
6. Outward appearance: the modern face of the city.
a. Value or standing in the eyes of others; prestige: did their best to save face after they were shown to be wrong; did not want to lose face by being unable to live up to his reputation.
b. Self-assurance; confidence: The team managed to maintain a firm face even in times of great adversity.
8. Effrontery; impudence: had the face to question my judgment.
9. The most significant or prominent surface of an object, especially:
a. The surface presented to view; the front.
b. A façade.
c. Outer surface: the face of the earth.
d. A marked side: the face of a clock; the face of a playing card.
e. The right side, as of fabric.
f. An exposed, often precipitous surface of rock.
10. A planar surface of a geometric solid.
11. Any of the surfaces of a rock or crystal.
12. The end, as of a mine or tunnel, at which work is advancing.
13. The appearance and geologic surface features of an area of land; topography.
a. A typeface or range of typefaces.
b. The raised printing surface of a piece of type.
v. faced, fac·ing, fac·es
1. To occupy a position with the face toward: stood and faced the audience.
2. To front on: a window that faces the south.
a. To meet or confront with self-assurance: How can I face your parents when they know that I've let them down?
b. To acknowledge and accept or deal with: had to face the facts; must be willing to face our problems. See Synonyms at defy.
a. To be certain to encounter; have in store: An unskilled youth faces a difficult life.
b. To bring or to be brought face to face with: "The prospect of military conflict ... faced us with nightmarish choices" (Henry A. Kissinger).
5. To cause (troops) to change direction by giving a command.
6. Games To turn (a playing card) so that the face is up.
7. To furnish with a surface or cover of a different material: bronze that is faced with gold foil.
8. To line or trim the edge of, especially with contrasting material: face a hem with lace.
9. To treat the surface of so as to smooth.
1. To be turned or placed with the front toward a specified direction.
2. To turn the face in a specified direction.
To attain mastery over or overcome by confronting in a resolute, determined manner: face down an opponent in a debate; faced the enemy down.
1. Sports To stand opposite an opponent in ice hockey, lacrosse, and other games and attempt to gain control of a puck or ball released by an official at the start of play.
2. To compete: Two longtime opponents faced off in a bitter election.
To confront an unpleasant situation with resolution and assurance: had to face up or get out; finally faced up to the problem.
face the music
To accept the unpleasant consequences, especially of one's own actions.
in the face/teeth of
In opposition to or defiance of.
on the face of it
From appearances alone; apparently: On the face of it, the problem seems minor.
show (one's) face
To make an appearance: Don't show your face on my property again.
to (one's) face
In the view or hearing of: insulted me to my face.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *facia, from Latin faciēs; see dhē- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.