pole-faced

daphna_r

Member
Israel Hebrew
I wonder if it is an idiom.
It appears in the sentence: "Ordinary pole-faced opera fans do not understand that when the coloratura sings, it's not a human voice they are hearing, but 'the angel's cry.'"
 
  • tepatria

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I believe pole-faced is a term for people who show no expression. I have not heard it used for many years. I believe the pole-faced people would not be true lovers of the opera and do not show true appreciatio for the art.
     

    tepatria

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I have not heard po-faced for a long time. My father used it when he thought I was making a disagreeable expression. Pole-faced, in my experience, means no expression, but forcing someone to listen to opera could make them po-faced!
     

    cycloneviv

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    I have not heard po-faced for a long time. My father used it when he thought I was making a disagreeable expression. Pole-faced, in my experience, means no expression, but forcing someone to listen to opera could make them po-faced!
    Looking at the WR dictionary, I think I use the expression wrongly; it has a similar definition to yours.

    It looks like both can be found, however:

    "Po-faced" dates back to around 1934 and means, as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it (and who would know better?), "having or assuming an expressionless or passive face."
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    M. Quinlan writes:

    po-faced
    It’s usually supposed to derive from the slang term po for a chamber pot (it rhymes with no), first recorded in the 1880s. But the abbreviation is more likely to be from the French pot de chambre than from the English term. It was probably influenced by the interjection pooh for something that’s distasteful, which is of course related to the verb to pooh-pooh meaning to express contempt or disdain for something; both are conventional reformulations of the noise one makes with the lips when appearing to blow away something unpleasant.
    http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-pof1.htm

    Chambre pots at the opera? One learns something every day here.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    "Pole-faced" is a mis-hearing, the person using it is mistaken about the expression as there is no such thing as "pole-faced", it is po-faced. I use this every now and again. Notwithstanding the definition given above, it means humourless; solemn-faced or disapproving (OED). "Passive or expressionless" isn't really an adequate definition for its normal use, I don't think. Is that an old or secondary OED definition?
     

    cycloneviv

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    "Passive or expressionless" isn't really an adequate definition for its normal use, I don't think. Is that an old or secondary OED definition?
    I'm not sure, sorry. I found it quoted at the page to which I linked the word "po-faced".

    I have personally used it to express both meanings, although now I'm thinking that's just me being obscure!
     
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