Word of the Day

Monday, June 06, 2005


\KOWN-tuh-nuhn(t)s\ , noun;
Appearance or expression of the face; look; aspect.
The face; the features.
An approving or encouraging look or expression.
Favor, good will, support; encouragement.
[Obsolete] Bearing; demeanor.
transitive verb:
To approve; to support; to encourage.
To tolerate or allow.
He was not so handsome as his brother, wrote Mrs Papendiek of the Prince as he approached manhood, "but his countenance was of a sweetness and intelligence quite irresistible."
-- Saul David, Prince of Pleasure
For Henry's sake she kept up appearances, had her hair done, applied discreet colours to her face, yet when she looked in the mirror, lipstick in hand, she saw a drained countenance, its expression wary, as if at any minute it might undergo disintegration, as if there were no longer any cells to separate the skin from the bone.
-- Anita Brookner, Visitors
Hawthorne himself did not make the common surrender to Italy and complained of "discomfort and miseries," found the Roman winter an unadvertised blast of chills, and could not countenance nudity in sculptures.
-- Elizabeth Hardwick, Sight-Readings
But this does not mean that the Serbian government was necessarily as committed to war with Austria as the Black Hand's leaders were, or that it was prepared to countenance the group's more extreme plans for fomenting cross-border, anti-Habsburg terrorism.
-- Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism
Countenance comes from Middle English contenaunce, from Old French, from Latin continentia, "restraint" (literally, "way one contains oneself"), from the present participle of continere, "to hold together; to hold in; to contain," from com-, "with, together" + tenere, "to hold." It is related to contain and content, "satisfied with what one has."
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