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at face value, take

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Accept from its outward appearance, as in You can't always take a manufacturer's advertisements at face value; they're bound to exaggerate. Literally this idiom has referred to the monetary value printed on a bank note, stock certificate, bond, or other financial instrument since the 1870s. The figurative usage is from the late 1800s.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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