from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Appearance, especially the expression of the face.
  • noun The face or facial features.
  • noun A look or expression indicative of encouragement or of moral support.
  • noun Support or approval.
  • noun Obsolete Bearing; demeanor.
  • transitive verb To give sanction or support to; tolerate or approve.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To appear friendly or favorable to; favor; encourage; aid; support; abet.
  • To make a show of; pretend.
  • To give effect to; act suitably to; be in keeping with.
  • noun The face; the whole form of the face; the features, considered as a whole; the visage.
  • noun The characteristic appearance or expression of the face; look; aspect; facial appearance.
  • noun Aspect or appearance conferred; seeming imparted to anything, as by words or conduct in regard to it: as. to put a good or a bad countenance upon anything.
  • noun Appearance of favor or good will; support afforded by friendly action; encouragement; patronage.
  • noun Assumed appearance; seeming; show; pretense.
  • noun In old law, credit or estimation by reason of one's estate, and with reference to his condition in life.
  • noun Hence Favor resulting from estimation or repute; trust; confidence.
  • noun Good appearance, presentableness.
  • noun In favor; in estimation.
  • noun Synonyms See face, n.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To encourage; to favor; to approve; to aid; to abet.
  • transitive verb obsolete To make a show of; to pretend.
  • noun Appearance or expression of the face; look; aspect; mien.
  • noun The face; the features.
  • noun Approving or encouraging aspect of face; hence, favor, good will, support; aid; encouragement.
  • noun obsolete Superficial appearance; show; pretense.
  • noun in an assured condition or aspect; free from shame or dismay.
  • noun not bold or assured; confounded; abashed.
  • noun to preserve a composed or natural look, undisturbed by passion or emotion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Appearance, especially the features and expression of the face.
  • verb transitive To tolerate, support, sanction, patronise or approve of something.

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

  • noun formal and explicit approval
  • noun the appearance conveyed by a person's face
  • verb consent to, give permission
  • noun the human face (`kisser' and `smiler' and `mug' are informal terms for `face' and `phiz' is British)


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English contenaunce, from Old French, from contenir, to behave; see contain.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Anglo-Norman, from Latin contineō ("hold together").



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

  • I thought this word had more to do with counting. i.e., the rhythm of one's speech, thoughts, etc., but I think I'm way off base.

    I don't feel satisfied with the definitions I'm finding that all have to do with someone's face.

    Is this related at all to physiognomy?

    May 16, 2009

  • Basically, this word refers to the expression on one's face. But it can also be used as a verb to mean "to allow, to accept" a certain behavior. In this meaning, it is often used in the negative: She could not countenance her husband's gambling. These two meanings are connected if you think that, when you accept something, you can look at it calmly, without getting upset.

    No, the word has nothing to do with counting.

    May 16, 2009

  • I don't know much about physiognomy, but it appears not to be related, other than a generally similar meaning.

    May 17, 2009