From Nordan Symposia
Jump to navigationJump to search




Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *facia, from Latin facies make, form, face, from facere to make, do


  • 1 a : 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>
b : a facial expression of distaste or displeasure <he made a face when he saw the test results>
c : makeup
  • 4 a (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 (2) : the front of something having two or four sides (3) : facade (4) : an exposed surface of rock (5) : any of the plane surfaces that bound a geometric solid
b : a surface specially prepared: 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
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


The face is a central sense organ complex, for those animals that have one, normally on the ventral surface of the head, and can depending on the definition in the human case, include the hair, forehead, eyebrow, eyelashes, eyes, nose, ears, cheeks, mouth, lips, philtrum, teeth, skin, and chin. The face has uses of expression, appearance, and identity amongst others. It also has different senses like olfaction, taste, hearing, and vision.

Individuality and recognition

The face is the feature which best distinguishes a person, and there are "special" regions of the human brain, such as the fusiform face area (FFA), which when damaged prevent the recognition of the faces of even intimate family members. The pattern of specific organs such as the eyes or parts thereof are used in biometric identification to uniquely identify individuals.


By extension, anything which is the forward or world facing part of a system which has internal structure is considered its "face", like the façade of a building. For example a public relations or press officer might be called the "face" of the organization he or she represents. "Face" also refers to reputation or standing in society, particularly Chinese society and is spoken of as a resource which can be won or lost. Because of the association with individuality the anonymous is sometimes called the "faceless".