[ koun-tn-uhns ]
See synonyms for: countenancecountenanced on

  1. appearance, especially the look or expression of the face: a sad countenance.

  2. the face; visage.

  1. calm facial expression; composure.

  2. approval or favor; encouragement; moral support.

  3. Obsolete. bearing; behavior.

verb (used with object),coun·te·nanced, coun·te·nanc·ing.
  1. to permit or tolerate: You should not have countenanced his rudeness.

  2. to approve, support, or encourage.

Idioms about countenance

  1. out of countenance, visibly disconcerted; abashed: He was somewhat out of countenance at the prospect of an apology.

Origin of countenance

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English cuntenaunce “behavior, bearing, self-control,” from Anglo-French cuntena(u)nce, Old French contenance, from Medieval Latin “way of living, demeanor,” from Latin continentia “self-control, restraint”; see continence

synonym study For countenance

2. See face.

word story For countenance

The English noun countenance comes from Middle English from Old French contenance, countenance “behavior, bearing.” Its original meaning in the 13th century came directly from the Old French. Later, in the 14th century, this developed into the current sense “the look or expression on a person’s face.”
The Old French noun ultimately comes from the Latin noun continentia “self-control, restraint,” a derivation of the verb continēre “to hold together, keep together, keep under control.”

Other words from countenance

  • coun·te·nanc·er, noun
  • un·coun·te·nanced, adjective
  • un·der·coun·te·nance, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use countenance in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for countenance


/ (ˈkaʊntɪnəns) /

  1. the face, esp when considered as expressing a person's character or mood: a pleasant countenance

  2. support or encouragement; sanction

  1. composure; self-control (esp in the phrases keep or lose one's countenance; out of countenance)

  1. to support or encourage; sanction

  2. to tolerate; endure

Origin of countenance

C13: from Old French contenance mien, behaviour, from Latin continentia restraint, control; see contain

Derived forms of countenance

  • countenancer, noun

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012