What Does "in the Face of" Mean?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2019
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The phrase "in the face of" is usually used when discussing something that occurs despite an event or situation. For example, a person may use this phrase when discussing another person's behavior when he is in danger. He may say something along the lines of, “The hero was brave in the face of danger.” This means the hero was brave despite some sort of danger. The phrase "in the face of" is an idiomatic expression, which is one that has a figurative, non-literal meaning, so no one's face is actually involved when this phrase is used.

It can prove difficult for some people to figure out what the phrase "in the face of" means if they have not heard the expression used in the past. This is because it seems to refer to something that is actually in a party's face. When a person attempts to translate this phrase literally, he may feel a bit confused because it doesn't seem to make much sense. An individual who has heard the phrase before, however, will usually understand that it is an idiomatic expression and is not-meant to be taken literally.


The idiomatic expression "in the face of" is often used to indicate some sort of adversity. It usually means that something has happened against the odds or in spite of another situation or event. For example, this phrase could be used when describing a child who stands up to a bully. In such a case, a person may state that the child did not waver in the face of threats from the bully. Such a statement means the child knew there was danger but did not let it deter him.

Sometimes this phrase is also used in describing how a person's behavior or thought pattern is influenced by an event or situation. For instance, a person may state that a person went back to college in the face of economical changes. This use of the phrase means that the person decided to seek additional education because of changes in the economy that seemed to warrant it.

People often use idiomatic expressions to make their speech more colorful or interesting. Often, phrases such as this one give a person's words a bit of drama. Some people, however, may become so used to hearing phrases like this one that they use them automatically and without consciously trying to make their speech more dramatic or interesting.



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Post 1

Thank you so much. I'm not a native speaker so I found this really helpful.

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