countenance

\ \ [13] A person’s countenance has nothing to do with computation. Etymologically, it is how they ‘contain’ themselves, or conduct themselves, and the word itself is a parallel construction with continence. It was borrowed from Old French contenance (a derivative of the verb contenircontain’), which meant ‘behaviour’, ‘demeanour’, or ‘calmness’ as well as ‘contents’, and originally had this somewhat abstract sense in English. It was not until the 14th century that the meaning began to develop through ‘facial expression’ to the now familiar ‘face’ (traces of the original sense survive in such expressions as ‘put someone out of countenance’, meaning to make them lose their cool).
\ \ Cf.CONTAIN, CONTINENCE

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

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  • Countenance — Coun te*nance (koun t[ e]*nans), n. [OE. contenance, countenaunce, demeanor, composure, F. contenance demeanor, fr. L. continentia continence, LL. also, demeanor, fr. L. continere to hold together, repress, contain. See {Contain}, and cf.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Countenance — may refer to: Human physical appearance Countenance divine, or divine countenance, a reference to the literal or metaphorical face of God Anglo Soviet invasion of Iran, called Operation Countenance, the 1941 invasion of Iran by the United Kingdom …   Wikipedia

  • countenance — ► NOUN 1) a person s face or facial expression. 2) formal support or approval. ► VERB ▪ admit as acceptable or possible. ● keep one s countenance Cf. ↑keep one s countenance ● …   English terms dictionary

  • countenance — [kount′ n əns] n. [ME & OFr contenance, bearing, conduct < L continentia, lit., way one holds oneself, restraint < continere: see CONTAIN] 1. the look on a person s face that shows one s nature or feelings 2. the face; facial features;… …   English World dictionary

  • countenance — [n1] appearance, usually of the face aspect, biscuit*, cast, demeanor, expression, face, features, gills*, kisser*, look, looks, map*, mask, mien, mug*, phizog*, physiognomy, poker face*, potato*, puss*, visage; concepts 716,718 countenance [n2]… …   New thesaurus

  • Countenance — Coun te*nance (koun t? nans), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Countenanced} ( nanst); p. pr. & vb. n. {Countenancing}.] 1. To encourage; to favor; to approve; to aid; to abet. [1913 Webster] This conceit, though countenanced by learned men, is not made out… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • countenance — n *face, visage, physiognomy, mug, puss countenance vb *favor, encourage Analogous words: *approve, sanction, endorse: *commend, applaud: *support, uphold, champion, ba …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • countenance — I verb abet, accede to, accredit, acquiesce in, adjust oneself to, advocate, affirm, agree to, aid, allow, approbare, approbate, approve, approve of, assent to, assist, back, be in favor of, charter, commend, concur in, confirm, consent to,… …   Law dictionary

  • countenance — (n.) mid 13c., from O.Fr. contenance demeanor, bearing, conduct, from L. continentia restraint, abstemiousness, moderation, lit. way one contains oneself, from continentem, prp. of continere (see CONTAIN (Cf. contain)). Meaning evolving M.E. from …   Etymology dictionary

  • countenance — n. & v. n. 1 a the face. b the facial expression. 2 composure. 3 moral support. v.tr. 1 give approval to (an act etc.) (cannot countenance this breach of the rules). 2 (often foll. by in) encourage (a person or a practice). Phrases and idioms:… …   Useful english dictionary

  • countenance — [[t]ka͟ʊntɪnəns[/t]] countenances, countenancing, countenanced 1) VERB: usu with brd neg If someone will not countenance something, they do not agree with it and will not allow it to happen. [FORMAL] [V n] Jake would not countenance Janis s… …   English dictionary

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