on the face of: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘on the face of’ mean?

The idiom "on the face of" means something is apparent or evident based on initial appearances or superficial evidence. It implies that a conclusion can be reached without deeper investigation or analysis.

Idiom Explorer

Unveiling the Rationale of "On the Face Of"

The idiom "on the face of it" is a commonly used phrase in the English language that has a clear and well-defined meaning. It is typically used in a literal sense to indicate that something is visibly or easily noticeable. In this sense, "on the face of it" is often used to describe physical attributes or characteristics that can be easily observed. For example, when someone says "on the face of it, the new car looks great," they are suggesting that the car's appearance is impressive or pleasing at first glance.

In addition to its literal usage, "on the face of it" can also be used to express an opinion or assessment based on available evidence or common knowledge. For instance, if someone says "on the face of it, the team is the strongest in the league," they are indicating that, based on the information at hand, the team appears to be the most formidable.

The idiom "in the face of" is another phrase related to "on the face of" that is commonly used in the English language. It is used to describe a situation where someone is confronted with a difficult or challenging circumstance and has to deal with it directly. For example, if someone says "in the face of adversity, she remained strong," they are highlighting the individual's ability to stay resilient and determined despite facing difficulties.

The origin of a facial expression determines its meaning.

Similarly, the phrase "on sight" is related to "on the face of" and is often used to describe the immediate recognition or identification of something or someone. When someone says "I can recognize him on sight," they are expressing their ability to identify the person as soon as they see them, without needing any further information or introduction.

Another related idiom is "face value," which refers to the apparent worth or meaning of something based solely on its external appearance or initial impression. For instance, if someone says "I took his words at face value," they are implying that they accepted what was said without questioning or doubting its truthfulness.

Lastly, the idiom "fall on one's face" is related to "on the face of" and is used to describe a situation where someone fails or makes a mistake in a very obvious or embarrassing manner. For example, if someone says "he fell on his face during the presentation," they are indicating that the individual failed or made a mistake in a highly noticeable or embarrassing way.

This article has explored the idiomatic expression "on the face of" and its related idioms "on the face of it," "in the face of," "face value," "on sight," and "fall on one's face." These idioms offer various ways to express observations, assessments, and challenges in a concise and accessible manner, adding depth and nuance to the English language. By understanding and effectively using these idioms, individuals can enhance their ability to communicate clearly and effectively.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom *on the face of* can be used in a sentence:

  • On the face of it, the new law seems fair and reasonable.
  • On the face of things, the proposal appears to be an excellent solution.
  • On the face of the evidence, it seems clear that she is innocent.

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