With tensed muscles and looking "difficult" (as I don't know how to describe this any better...) Not done most excessively (a face frown as much as possible), but kind of like someone who (pretended or not) is having a hard time. You may have seen this kind of face before from young people who take a lot of "selfies".

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    Where I live, that may be called the bitch face, which also implies some genuine hostility. – Anonym May 26 '14 at 20:12
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    There must be a "nicer" way of saying that?! – user76935 May 26 '14 at 20:15
  • I've also heard it called a chronically frowny face, if the person does it often enough. To be honest, I think that frowny face is probably sufficient. – Anonym May 26 '14 at 21:50
  • @Anonym That's what I just mentioned in my answer comment too! ''Frowny face'' is just fine. – Ellie Kesselman May 28 '14 at 4:03
  • Related. – tchrist Jun 7 '14 at 20:31

I would say the person has a dour expression or is stern or is gloomy.


I suggest hatchet-faced. It is used as the opposite of smiling,

I thus became both hatchet-faced inspector and smiling, helpful adviser who encouraged rather than drove.

-Admiral Sandy Woodward, One Hundred Days (2003)

Other examples

  • Hank Patterson was an actor in television programs Gunsmoke and Green Acres. He had a hatchet-faced expression in some, but not all roles.
  • Jodi Arias was described as having a hatchet-faced expression in court.
  • Isn't hatched-faced more biological? The face I mean could be attempted by anyone. More like an intended facial expression. – user76935 May 27 '14 at 0:59
  • @user76935 No, Jodie Arias had a hatchet-faced expression in court, but not in other contexts. I will revise my answer to clarify. I know what you meant, by "frowny face" ;o) I think that is a very nice term, just as is! – Ellie Kesselman May 28 '14 at 4:01
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    I personally think hatchet-faced actually is the best word for what OP seeks to describe. But all these (effectively, irrelevant) pictures mean this isn't the best answer. – FumbleFingers Jun 17 '14 at 12:53
  • @FumbleFingers I tried to show that it was a mutable facial expression, not biological, in response to OP's comment. I will happily remove them. – Ellie Kesselman Jun 19 '14 at 5:32

Fleer To make a wry face in contempt, or to grin in scorn; to deride; to sneer; to mock; to gibe.


Gurning: intoxicated by drugs or drink. The term was popular among adolescents and students from the later 1990s and refers particularly to someone feeling the ill effects of drugs. It is inspired by the verb to 'gurn' (from Middle English girn, a form of 'grin'), which means to pull grotesque faces.


Pretty Girls, Ugly Faces:Pretty Girls, Ugly Faces is a photo fad in which girls take pictures of themselves while posing in an unflattering manner, making a silly face or performing a physically strenuous activity. Origin

The single topic Tumblr blog Pretty Girls Making Ugly Faces1 launched on September 26th, 2011, featuring nine photos of different females making unattractive-looking faces by manipulating their mouths and necks. Throughout 2011, the blog was regularly updated with the bloggers’ own photos as well as user-submitted images before going on a hiatus in June 2012.


Duckface: also known as “Myspace Face”, is a pejorative term for a facial expression made by pressing one’s lips together into the shape of a duck’s bill. It is often associated with selfies of teenage girls posted on social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook.


Girning: 1. to snarl 2. to grimace; pull grotesque faces

  • I know this term, but didn't mean pressing the lips together. – user76935 May 26 '14 at 20:34

Maybe a 'Melancholic person'. A person having a hard time has a 'melancholic face'

  • Why would a young person show his melancholic face? While, in fact, they are young, and most of those I saw, have an abundence of friends and buzzing lifestyles to make them happy/cheerful/enjoy. – user76935 May 26 '14 at 19:56

I think that to have a grim expression on one's face may come close to what are looking for.


I would say that person either has a scowl (jaws clinched more, little more frown in it) or a glare. Often models are told to do one or the other to tighten their face muscles.

A fierce or angry stare.


I've heard this kind of stern, impassive look described as a prison face.

  • Though, ironically, it doesn't look like the face of a prisoner? Which is, perhaps, more lacking of any (emotional) expression. – user76935 May 26 '14 at 19:50

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