What does the idiom "face the music" mean?

Are you using the idiom face the music but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the face the music idiom and the situations in which it is used.

Meaning of "face the music"


The phrase “face the music” is a popular idiom used to mean accepting responsibility for one’s actions, especially when it requires one to accept the consequences of their own decisions. It implies that a person who has done something wrong must accept the negative outcome of their deeds, and take the negative feedback that may come with it.


The phrase “face the music” originated in the mid- 19th century, and originally referred to the practice of musicians taking their places in the orchestra and facing the music. The phrase was later used in a figurative sense to refer to facing a difficult situation, with the idea that the situation is like the conductor of the orchestra and you are the musician, who must play and accept the outcome.


This phrase is typically used to mean that someone has to accept the consequences of their actions and face up to the negative outcome. It can be used in almost any situation, from personal relationships to business situations, when someone must take responsibility for their actions and accept the negative outcome that may come with it. This phrase is often used in a humorous or sarcastic way, as a way of encouraging someone to accept the consequences of their actions.

Example Sentences

  • After Matt cheated on the exam he knew he would have to face the music when the teacher found out.
  • I can't believe Mark lied to the boss about his work. He'll have to face the music when she finds out the truth.
  • If you don't finish this project by the deadline you'll have to face the music and accept the consequences.

The meanings of the words in the "face the music" idiom

The Global Spread of English Idioms

As English has become a global language, its idioms have spread far beyond the borders of the UK and USA. For instance, the idiom "beat around the bush" has equivalents in many other languages, such as "tourner autour du pot" in French and "dar vueltas al asunto" in Spanish. Meanwhile, other idioms have been adapted for local contexts, such as the Russian idiom "?? ???? ???????" (ne svoya rubashka), which translates to "not one's own shirt," meaning to be in an uncomfortable or unfamiliar situation.


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