Skip to Content

EnglishClub
Home Learn English Teach English MyEnglishClub Home Learn English Teach English MyEnglishClub

lose face

Meaning: If you lose face, your status falls and you aren't respected as much as you were.

For example:

  • A good manager can let someone know they've made a mistake without causing them to lose face.

  • Ali's spoken English isn't improving because he thinks he'll lose face if he makes a mistake, so he never says anything. And of course the only way to get better at speaking is to practise.

Origin: This idiom originated in the Chinese term "tiu lien" which translates literally as "lose face". The term expresses the concept of losing the respect of others, especially in public, which is very important in many Asian cultures. The term has been used in English since the late 1800s after being introduced to English by the British consular official Sir Robert Hart in his book "These from Land of Sinim - Essays on the Chinese Question", first published in 1876.

Quick Quiz:

Brian made Gary lose face in front of his friends when he said Gary was
  1. a really good friend
  2. not very smart
  3. going into hospital

This entry is in the following categories:

Privacy & Terms | Contact | Report error
© 1997-2014 EnglishClub