noun, often attributive
\ ˈfās How to pronounce face (audio) \

Essential Meaning of face

1 : the front part of the head that has the eyes, nose, and mouth on it He has a round face. He punched me (right) in the face. See More ExamplesHis face is familiar but I can't remember his name. I'll never forget the look on her face. She slapped him in the face. = She slapped his face. He fell flat on his face. a bearded/freckled/tanned face a fresh/youthful face face cream face powder Her face lit up [=she looked pleased and happy] when she saw him. Her face fell [=she looked unhappy] when I told her the bad news. I don't know how he can show his face around here. [=how he can stand being seen here] Why the long face? [=why do you look so unhappy?] He was wearing a silly grin/smile on his face. [=he was grinning/smiling in a silly way] She angrily told him to wipe that smile off his face. [=to stop smiling] Her guilt was written all over her face. [=the expression on her face showed her guilt very clearly] The answer to the problem was staring me in the face all along. [=the answer was obvious but I did not see it]Hide
2 : a facial expression a happy/sad face a friendly/smiling face See More ExamplesShe tried to put on a brave face [=she tried to appear brave or calm] despite the pain of the injury. It was hard to keep a straight face. [=it was hard not to laugh] You should have seen his face when we shouted "Surprise!" [=he had a shocked, surprised, etc., look on his face]Hide
3 : person I didn't recognize any of the faces around the table. There are lots of new faces around the office. It's good to see a familiar face. [=a person that I know]

Full 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) usually used in the phrase put one's face on … I have never been the kind of woman who feels comfortable popping to the shops without putting my face on first.— Vicki Michelle
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
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 finished surface (as of a tool or implement) The tendency of the belt is to slip over the face of the pulley in a counter clockwise direction.— H. W. Harkness Cans are made from … thin sheets of steel lightly coated with tin. This tin coating serves two purposes: it covers the face of the steel sheet, preserving it from rust; and it acts as a medium by which parts of a sheet may be made to adhere to one another by soldering.— B. S. Luh et al.
(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

Synonyms for face

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of face in a Sentence

Noun 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. Verb 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 The victim suffered wounds to his face and torso and was treated at a local hospital; he is expected to survive. Steven Martinez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 25 Nov. 2021 So there was a special makeup Ziploc with WAP Juice for my face. Kathryn Vanarendonk, Vulture, 24 Nov. 2021 Gamboa went through different motions on her own, with the aid of the device, like lifting her arms and hands to her face or to her side. Claire Spinner, The Arizona Republic, 24 Nov. 2021 There was defeat on his face; the veterans got around him. Dom Amore, courant.com, 24 Nov. 2021 Ten minutes or so of exposure to your face and arms is roughly equivalent to 200 IU of vitamin D supplement. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 24 Nov. 2021 My eyes hurt, my face hurts, my body hurts, everywhere hurts. Daniela Avila, PEOPLE.com, 24 Nov. 2021 Only, this ghost is wearing a black lace veil over her face. Samantha Highfill, EW.com, 24 Nov. 2021 The child twists away to the left of the frame, exposing his naked back and casting his own face into shadow. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Sun Devils will face No. 6 Baylor at 11 a.m. Friday. Support local journalism. The Arizona Republic, 26 Nov. 2021 The Cougars face the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday at 5 p.m. on South Field in Provo. Alex Vejar, The Salt Lake Tribune, 25 Nov. 2021 The Ohio State basketball team will face Florida in its third game as part of the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off. Stephen Means, cleveland, 24 Nov. 2021 Given the jury's verdict, all three defendants face minimum sentences of life in prison. NBC News, 24 Nov. 2021 The Mules face Marble Falls (9-3) in the Class 5A Division II bracket at 7 p.m. Friday at Dripping Springs. David Hinojosa, San Antonio Express-News, 24 Nov. 2021 The challenge Seminole County will face in the coming years, Zembower said, is protecting the rural areas, along with updating the county’s land development codes so that new residential subdivisions in urban areas are designed around green spaces. Martin E. Comas, orlandosentinel.com, 24 Nov. 2021 The Bulldogs face two-time defending state champion Irwin County on Friday night in a third-round playoff game. Creg Stephenson | Cstephenson@al.com, al, 24 Nov. 2021 The Warriors face Skyline-Oakland (6-4), a 38-6 semifinal winner over Castlemont-Oakland, in Saturday’s 6 p.m. title game at Fremont-Oakland High. Mitch Stephens, San Francisco Chronicle, 22 Nov. 2021

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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Time Traveler for face

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near face




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Statistics for face

Last Updated

27 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Face.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/face. Accessed 1 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for face


\ ˈfās How to pronounce face (audio) \

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 How to pronounce face (audio) \

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



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

More from Merriam-Webster on face

Nglish: Translation of face for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of face for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about face


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