I'm writing a book, and I'm trying to describe that the girl is making faces as she's trying to remember something. I'm not quite sure how to describe that. (Seen from the point of view of another character in the book.)

So far, I've got this, but I think my sentence doesn't make sense.

She was trying to remember where she’d seen my aunt. She was making faces while thinking, which made her look so cute.

I thought about "grimaces" but that's not it, since grimace is usually in disgust or disapproval.


3 Answers 3


How about frown?

Furrow one's brows in an expression indicating disapproval, displeasure, or concentration.

We all turned to look at Lynn, who was still frowning in thought.

He was greeted by the sight of three men frowning in concentration over a card game.



You can use the expression "to strain one's facial muscles".

(ref. 1) The effort strained his facial muscles. She returned the smile. “Just fine. I have the latest data on compression strength and fracture resistance for the honeycomb structure.

(ref. 2) Kuster~Laap strained his facial muscles searching his memories. »I'm not very familiar with these convoys.

You can also use "screw one's face up". (OALD¹)

(ref.) Monk screwed his face in concentration . “ How about Dixie ? That's better yet . ” “ Dixie what ? ” Barney asked patiently . “ Dixie nuthin ' , ” Monk said . “ Just plain Dixie . ”

¹After correction; see user Mitch's comment

  • You don't -screw- your face, that sound like you put a screw into your face. You might 'screw up your face" (which might sound weird too, but it's way less weird than 'screw your face').
    – Mitch
    Jun 13, 2021 at 1:42

Not sure a single word can be found. I would go for squeezing her eyes. Children do that:

On PsychologyToday I found this:

Have you ever noticed that when little kids are trying their hardest to remember something, they squeeze their eyes closed? They may be on to something. Several studies over the past few years show that closing your eyes boosts brain power, improves memory, and even ignites creativity.

You could include closed or not. So your sentence would look something like

She was squeezing her eyes (closed), trying to remember where she’d seen my aunt, and that made her look so cute.

Children do look cute when they squeeze their eyes.


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