I know countenance means appearance, behavior, and composure. What does the phrase 'to lose countenance, with a good countenance' mean?

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    It means "keeping your composure even though you've lost face" (i.e. not betraying your shame with your face or facial expression). Stiff upper lip and all that. It's contrasting the literal and metaphorical meanings of countenance / face.
    – Dan Bron
    Oct 13, 2015 at 16:08
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    Can you put it into an answer?
    – qazwsx
    Oct 13, 2015 at 16:12
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    If you don't mind that I offer no authorities to back it up, I will.
    – Dan Bron
    Oct 13, 2015 at 16:13
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    To suffer indignities with grace.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 11, 2016 at 21:04

1 Answer 1


OED: s.v. countenance n.1

6.a. ‘Calmness of look, composure of face’; ‘confidence of mien’ (Johnson); esp. in phr. to lose countenance, with a good countenance.

Essentially, then, “to lose one’s cool,” and “while maintaining composure,” respectively, and in both cases as expressed in one’s face.

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