1

countenance

noun coun·te·nance \ ˈkau̇n-tᵊn-ən(t)s , ˈkau̇nt-nən(t)s \
Updated on: 18 Nov 2017

Definition of countenance

1 a : look, expression
  • … a countenance which expressed both good humor and intelligence …
  • —Sir Walter Scott
b : mental composure
  • … startled, and also somewhat out of countenance.
  • —Arnold Bennett
c : calm expression
  • He managed to keep his countenance through the ordeal.
2 : face, visage; especially : the face as an indication of mood, emotion, or character
  • The photograph showed his somber countenance.
3 : bearing or expression that offers approval or sanction : moral support
  • … her countenance of their unsafe amusements …
  • —Jane Austen
4 archaic
b : pretense
5 obsolete : bearing, demeanor

Examples of countenance in a Sentence

  1. … his white countenance was rendered eerie by the redness of the sagging lids below his eyes … —John UpdikeThe Afterlife1994
  2. You could see it in his frame and deportment … a beaming countenance, expansive salutations, a warm handshake … —Simon SchamaGrantaAutumn 1990
  3. All, all are kind to me but their tones fall strangely on my ear & their countenances meet mine not like home faces … —Emily Dickinson 17 Feb. 1848, in Selected Letters(1914) 1986
  4. Before receiving him, Henry had so possessed himself that no one could guess from his countenance with what sentiments he remembered the young king. —Amy KellyEleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings1950
  5. The photograph showed his somber countenance.

  6. a pleasant countenance that puts visitors at ease

Recent Examples of countenance from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'countenance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of countenance

Middle English contenance, from Anglo-French cuntenance, contenance, from Medieval Latin continentia, from Latin, restraint, from continent-, continens, present participle of continēre to hold together — more at contain


2

countenance

verb

Definition of countenance

countenanced; countenancing
transitive verb
: to extend approval or toleration to : sanction
  • refused to countenance any changes in the policy

countenancer

noun

Examples of countenance in a Sentence

  1. But there are only two logical choices …  . If you can't countenance the first, you have to accept the second. —Anna QuindlenNewsweek6 Aug. 2007
  2. … the constellation of family emotions—love, obedience, rivalry, repression—can turn a family into a moral system of its own in which even the greatest horrors can be countenanced in the name of loyalty and love … —Scott TurowTimes Literary Supplement15 Mar. 1991
  3. They disapproved of the marriage, and could not be expected to countenance it. —Thomas HardyTess of the d'Urbervilles1891
  4. I don't countenance such behavior in children of any age.

  5. countenanced the delays and inconveniences of traveling by air with good grace

Recent Examples of countenance from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'countenance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of countenance

countenance Synonyms


COUNTENANCE Defined for English Language Learners

countenance

noun

Definition of countenance for English Language Learners

  • : the appearance of a person's face : a person's expression


countenance

verb

Definition of countenance for English Language Learners

  • : to accept, support, or approve of (something)


COUNTENANCE Defined for Kids

1

countenance

noun coun·te·nance \ ˈkau̇n-tᵊn-əns \

Definition of countenance for Students

: the human face or its expression
  • a kind countenance

2

countenance

verb

Definition of countenance for Students

countenanced; countenancing
: to give approval or tolerance to
  • I will not countenance such rude behavior.


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