Facing masks or horrible harpists, only courage and clarity hold ...

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A WORD IN THE HAND: FACE

Facing masks or horrible harpists, only courage and clarity hold water

A column to satisfy your inner grammar nerd

Deputy features editor: Sunday Times

“I just can’t face it anymore.” You’ll probably have heard this line from people who are fed up with lockdown and/or fed up with wearing masks that restrict their breathing and their “freedom”.

Many people, understandably, cannot face a life subject to all the strictures imposed to try and stop a killer virus from spreading, so they turn their faces away from the risks and dangers they cannot countenance.

Etymologically speaking, there are some subtle differences between face and countenance. Face, the noun, comes originally from the ancient Latin facies (no, not faeces, that’s something else), meaning “the appearance that is imposed on something”, which is probably about as close as you can get to a definition of a human expression...

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