Where does the expression “to save face” come from and What does “lose face” mean?

The expression “to save face” means: To maintain (or lose) one’s dignity, prestige, or at least a semblance of such dignity or prestige or esteem before others; to avoid humiliation or disgrace.

The Chinese use only tiu lien, which means “to lose face,” though they have another expression, “for the sake of his face.”

It was the English residing in China who coined “to save face,” and it is that expression, along with “to save one’s face,” that is in more common use among Occidentals than the translation of the phrase used by the Chinese themselves.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

Leave a Comment