noun, often attributive
\ˈfās \

Definition of face 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the front part of the head that in humans extends from the forehead to the chin and includes the mouth, nose, cheeks, and eyes

b : the face as a means of identification : countenance would know that face anywhere

2 archaic : presence, sight

3a : facial expression a friendly face

b : a facial expression of distaste or displeasure he made a face when he saw the test results

c : makeup sense 3a(1)

4a(1) : outward appearance put a good face on it

(2) : the aspect of something that is perceptible or obvious upon superficial examination the theory is absurd on its face— Kim Neely

b : disguise, pretense

c(1) : assurance, confidence maintaining a firm face in spite of adversity

(2) : effrontery how anyone could have the face to ask that question

d : dignity, prestige afraid to lose face

5 : surface:

a(1) : a front, upper, or outer surface vanished from the face of the earth

(2) : the front of something having two or four sides the face of a clock

(3) : facade the face of a building

(4) : an exposed surface of rock

(5) : any of the plane surfaces that bound a geometric solid A cube is a solid with six square faces.

b : a surface specially prepared: such as

(1) : the principal dressed surface (as of a disk)

(2) : the right side (as of cloth or leather)

(3) : an inscribed, printed, or marked side the two faces of a coin

c : a striking surface (as of a tool) the face of the golf club the face of an anvil

d(1) : the surface (as of type) that receives the ink and transfers it to the paper

(2) : a style of type

6 : the end or wall of a mine tunnel, drift, or excavation at which work is progressing

8a : person lots of new faces around here

b professional wrestling : baby face sense 2 Randy Orton earned respect as a heel because of his cocky, overconfident persona. As a face, he's lost the smugness that defined his character and is struggling to find his identity.— Rennie Detore

in one's face

: directly and aggressively in one's presence dunked the ball in his face often used with get to describe aggressively confrontational speech or behavior his boss got in his face about being late

in the face of or less commonly in face of

: face-to-face with : despite fearless in the face of danger

to one's face

: in one's presence or so that one is fully aware of what is going on If you have something to say about me, say it to my face.


faced; facing

Definition of face (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to confront impudently faced him with evidence of treachery

2a : to line near the edge especially with a different material

b : to cover the front or surface of faced the building with marble

3 : to meet face-to-face or in competition The team will face a tough opponent in its next game.

4a : to stand or sit with the face toward The teacher faced the class.

b : to have the front oriented toward a house facing the park

5a : to recognize and deal with straightforwardly face the facts

b : to master by confronting with determination used with down faced down his critics

6a : to have as a prospect : be confronted by face a grim future

b : to be a prospect or a source of concern for the problems that face us

c : to bring face-to-face he was faced with ruin

7 : to make the surface of (something, such as a stone) flat or smooth

8 : to cause (troops) to face in a particular direction on command The captain faced his company to the left.

intransitive verb

1 : to have the face or front turned in a specified direction The house faced south.

2 : to turn the face in a specified direction She faced to her left.

face the music

: to meet an unpleasant situation, a danger, or the consequences of one's actions

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Examples of face in a Sentence


He has a round face. His face is familiar but I can't remember his name. I'll never forget the look on her face. He fell flat on his face. I didn't recognize any of the faces around the table. There are lots of new faces around the office.


The teacher faced the class. She turned around to face the window. He sat facing the wall. Turn and face to the east. The house faces the park. The living room faces the afternoon sun. My shoe was lying in the corner with its sole facing upward. The flower opens facing skyward. Look at the illustration on the facing page. Only by facing your problems can you hope to overcome them.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Police said Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, smacked the faces of two female officers and one male officer with her bare breasts during the Wednesday night show. Andrew Welsh-hugging, Cincinnati.com, "Stormy Daniels arrested: Officers' motivations to be reviewed," 13 July 2018 In 2009, Rihanna could have easily become the face of victimhood, having become a survivor of domestic abuse at the hands of Chris Brown. Kathryn Lindsay, refinery29.com, "Why Be Engaged When You Can Be An Ex?," 13 July 2018 Brazilian star Marta was sent off with a straight red card in the sixth minute of second half stoppage time for contact to the face of Dash forward Rachel Daly. Jordan Culver, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando Pride falls 3-1 to host Houston Dash," 12 July 2018 The new face of Water Street Mall in downtown Aurora is on display. Steve Lord, Aurora Beacon-News, "With Water Street Mall work finished, Aurora looks to renovate Mundy Park," 12 July 2018 On the face of it, the vacancy to become chief executive of Lululemon doesn’t ooze appeal. The Economist, "Despite falling foul of the #MeToo movement, Lululemon is soaring," 12 July 2018 World's Ugliest Dog, Zsa Zsa the English bulldog, dies weeks after winning title. 'Haunting' faces of 'ghosts' reappear in world's oldest photos. Fox News, "FOX NEWS FIRST: Anti-Trump FBI lovebird defies subpoena; Trump slams 'inappropriate' Russia deal at NATO summit," 11 July 2018 After every presidential election, the losing candidate continues to play a role as the face of the losing party. Alvin Chang, Vox, "Nearly two years into the Trump presidency, Fox News is still obsessed with Hillary Clinton," 11 July 2018 On the steep cliff faces of a gully at Shangchen, a Chinese team unearthed 96 stone points, flakes, and cores that were probably used to carve up animal bones or to smash them open for marrow. Ann Gibbons, Science | AAAS, "Our ancestors may have left Africa hundreds of thousands of years earlier than thought," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The asbestos cases are part of more than 9,000 claims facing J&J alleging its talc products cause cancer. Tim Bross, Time, "Women Claimed Johnson & Johnson's Talc Powder Gave Them Cancer. They Just Won $4.7 Billion in Damages," 14 July 2018 The city, which has 11,000 employees, is facing a shortfall in its available funds to pay pension obligations of more than $2.7 billion. David Garrick, sandiegouniontribune.com, "If state Supreme Court rules against San Diego on pensions, it could could cost city millions," 14 July 2018 By the early-2000s, Kiel Bros. faced mounting debt as industry consolidation and low gas prices thinned profit margins. Bradford Betz, Fox News, "Cleanups at Pence family's failed gas stations costing taxpayers millions: report," 14 July 2018 But with a runner on third and one out in the top of the fifth, defending a 2-0 lead, Richards finally faced some pressure. Mike Persak, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Marlins shut out Phillies, 2-0, even weekend series with division leaders," 14 July 2018 Rescuers faced daunting challenges, from decreasing oxygen levels and fears of further flooding. Casey Quackenbush, Time, "After a Successful Cave Rescue, Thailand's Navy SEALs Will Add Cave-Diving to Their Training," 13 July 2018 Women in the wine world have not been immune to the challenges faced by female chefs and other women in the culinary industry. Kristen Bellstrom, Fortune, "Brett Kavanaugh, Reese Witherspoon, Russell Simmons: Broadsheet July 11th," 11 July 2018 The incident on an emotional political night exposed Fox News to a threatening atmosphere frequently faced by reporters at other news organizations at Trump rallies. David Bauder, The Seattle Times, "Demonstrators force Fox crew from Supreme Court broadcast," 10 July 2018 The judge in charge, a firm, no-nonsense woman (Saadia Bentaieb), sits on one side of a table, faced by Antoine (Denis Ménochet) and Miriam (Léa Drucker) and their articulate, dueling attorneys. Kenneth Turan, latimes.com, "Review: Searing French drama 'Custody' is an unforgettable experience," 10 July 2018

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

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First Known Use of face


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for face


Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French, going back to Vulgar Latin *facia (attested in early Medieval Latin as facia "portrait"), re-formation of Latin faciēs "appearance, aspect, form, human face," from fac-, stem of facere "to make, do" + -iēs, noun suffix, usually deverbal — more at fact


Middle English facen, verbal derivative of face face entry 1

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Learn More about face

Dictionary Entries near face







face and fill

Statistics for face

Last Updated

1 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for face

The first known use of face was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for face



English Language Learners Definition of face

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the front part of the head that has the eyes, nose, and mouth on it

: a facial expression

: the way something appears when it is first seen or thought about



English Language Learners Definition of face (Entry 2 of 2)

: to stand or sit with your face and body turned toward (something or someone)

: to have the front part toward (something)

: to be on the page that is opposite to (another page)


\ˈfās \

Kids Definition of face

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the front part of the head

2 : an expression of the face a sad face

3 : outward appearance It looks easy on the face of it.

4 : a funny or silly expression

5 : an expression showing displeasure

6 : respect entry 1 sense 1 He was afraid of losing face.

7 : a front, upper, or outer surface

8 : one of the flat surfaces that bound a solid a face of a cube


faced; facing

Kids Definition of face (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to have the front or face toward The house faces east.

2 : to cover the front or surface of The building will be faced with marble.

3 : to oppose with determination face danger


noun, often attributive
\ˈfās \

Medical Definition of face 

1a : the front part of the human head including the chin, mouth, nose, cheeks, eyes, and usually the forehead

b : the corresponding part of the head of a lower animal

2 : surface especially : a front, upper, or outer surface

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Legal Definition of face 

1a : outward appearance

b : the surface or superficial reading or meaning of something (as a document or statute) that does not take into account outside information the face of [the] deed reveals that she had two purposes in mindState v. Rand, 366 A.2d 183 (1976) often used in the phrases on its face and on the face of is…neutral on its face but has a discriminatory effect on women— Marcia Coyle did not see on the face of the amendment that it was precisely directed at public as distinguished from private destructionO'Brien v. United States, 376 F.2d 538 (1967)

2 : the inscribed or printed side of something (as a document) broadly : the front side of something inscribed or printed on both sides the face of a stock certificate

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Comments on face

What made you want to look up face? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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