Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Wearing a particularly stern and disapproving expression; humorless; priggish.
  • adj. Poker-faced.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. humorless and disapproving

Etymologies

Probably from po, abbreviated slang based on French pot de chambre (chamber pot), after the distasteful expression anyone would adopt upon being presented with a full one. Perhaps similarly from pooh; perhaps influenced by poker-faced. Also possibly “poor-faced”. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Formula One is a notoriously po-faced sport but Sebastian Vettel – a fan of Monty Python and Little Britain – was not too distracted by the task of trying to win Sunday's Chinese grand prix to be amused by the sight of an absent-minded Jenson Button driving his McLaren into the Red Bull pit, just as Vettel himself was attempting to make a tyre stop.

    Elegance of George Eastham embellished Stoke City's neutral appeal | Richard Williams

  • There has been something of a po-faced flap at some US media outlets about this weekend's rallies in Washington arranged by TV news satirists Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

    How to cover satirical political events - chuckle in a non-genuine manner

  • Pontevedro, in Giles Havergal's enticingly louche production, is one of those po-faced principalities whose chief characteristic is taking itself just a little too seriously.

    The Merry Widow – review

  • In a flood of wordplay and some tremendously corny jokes (at one point, Luka navigates three treacherous river eddies, known as Nelson, Duane and Fisher), he also explores the complex and changing contours of father-son relationships and the spectre of a world policed by po-faced critics (one set of villains are called the Learned Ones) or entirely denuded of storytelling.

    Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie - review

  • Even on our own turf, we can find ourselves getting overly po-faced.

    Is it OK to laugh at Ibsen?

  • No; in Labour, box-ticking, Britain the response is a po-faced "We take the sale of alcohol to underage people extremely seriously."

    The UK's box-ticking culture

  • Snappy idea by the BBC, shortly after it started its slightly worthy po-faced TV series Village SOS, to ask crime novelist Val McDermid to write a series with exactly the same title, run through the week during Woman's Hour, which featured the same small-town prides and sensibilities but also, crucially, a murder.

    Rewind radio: D for Discretion; Old Grey Whistle Test 40; Village SOS – review

  • So the real show gets publicity, Val gets to knock out another crime caper, and cynics such as me get to enjoy her poking fun at the very pomposities of such worthy well-intentioned po-faced series – the lottery corruption, the true chances of a "performing arts centre" ever reinvigorating a broken northern pit town, etc.

    Rewind radio: D for Discretion; Old Grey Whistle Test 40; Village SOS – review

  • It's the very antithesis of po-faced dining rooms: joyful, irreverent, verging on fantastical.

    10 of the best restaurants for new Catalan cuisine

  • Magical, funny, wholly lacking in po-faced piety, the movie incorporates elements of Irish mythology and is drawn in a flat, stylised fashion that derives from the art of the time.

    The Secret of Kells

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.