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American Dictionary of the English Language

Webster's Dictionary 1828

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Countenance


COUNTENANCE, noun [Latin , to hold.]

1. Literally, the contents of a body; the outline and extent which constitutes the whole figure or external appearance. Appropriately, the human face; the whole form of the face, or system of features; visage.

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance Proverbs 15:13.

Be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance Matthew 6:16.

2. Air; look; aspect; appearance of the face; as in the phrase, to change or alter the countenance

3. The face or look of a beast; as a horse of a good countenance

4. Favor; good will; kindness.

Thou hast made him glad with thy countenance Psalms 21:6.

Hence in scriptural language, the light of Gods countenance is his smiles or favorable regards, his favor and grace; and to hide his face or countenance is to manifest his displeasure, and withdraw his gracious aids. So the rebuke of his countenance indicates his anger and frowns. Psalms 80:16.

This application of face or countenance which seems to be of high antiquity, proceeded probably from the practice of turning away the face to express anger, displeasure and refusal; a practice still common, but probably universal among rude nations. The opposite conduct would of course express favor. The grant of a petition is accompanied with a look directed to the petitioner; the refusal or denial, with an averted face. Hence,

5. Support; aid; patronage; encouragement; favor in promoting and maintaining a person or cause.

It is the province of the magistrate, to give countenance to piety and virtue.

Let religion enjoy the countenance of the laws.

Give no countenance to violations of moral duty.

6. Show; resemblance; superficial appearance.

The election being done, he made countenance of great discontent thereat.

7. In law, credit or estimation.

To keep the countenance is to preserve a calm, composed or natural look, unruffled by passion; to refrain from expressing laughter, joy, anger or other passion, by an unchanged countenance

In countenance in favor; in estimation.

If the profession of religion were in countenance among men of distinction, it would have a happy effect on society.

To keep in countenance to give assurance or courage to; to support; to aid by favor; to prevent from shame or dismay.

To put in countenance to give assurance; to encourage; or to bring into favor; to support.

Out of countenance confounded; abashed; with the countenance cast down; not bold or assured.

To put out of countenance to cause the countenance to fall; to abash; to intimidate; to disconcert.

COUNTENANCE, verb transitive

1. To favor; to encourage by opinion or words.

The design was made known to the minister, but he said nothing to countenance it.

2. To aid; to support; to encourage; to abet; to vindicate; by any means.

Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause. Exodus 23:3.

3. To encourage; to appear in defense.

He countenanced the landing in his long boat.

4. To make a show of.

Each to these ladies love did countenance

5. To keep an appearance.