countenance as a verb


Senior Member

1) Would it be correct to substitute "countenance" for "face" (meaning accept, deal with, act) in the following sentence:

Of course they would soon discover the truth they refuse to countenance (to face?) – that journalists aren't priests but economic agents. (blog)-16 hours ago

2) how to choose between 'countenance' and 'allow'? what is the difference between them? are they differ in register?
For example:
I can't countenance myself to refuse the offer (no source) / I can't allow myself to refuse the offer.

I won't countenance that kind of language in the house. / allow? (this dictionary)

Thank you!
  • DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I don't think I've ever seen "countenance" used reflexively, so your example (2a) doesn't really work. :(

    But the other two are both fine. :)


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'Countenance' is a bit more like 'approve of'. It's not merely facing or accepting what happens, but having a moral say in it as well.

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Countenance is also a rather high register. People who say this about the behaviour of others are usually setting themselves up as an authority. It mgiht even sound quite pompous.

    I agree with DonnyB #2 that we do not use if reflexively. Being that pompous or bossy with yourself sounds odd.

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Looking closely at our dictionary's definitions we see a sort of tension between the idea of permssion and "enduring". Obviously there is some overlap, but usually when we hear it used in terms of permsision it is as a negative "I wont countenance bad behaviour".
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