Posted by Brian from Shawnee on January 20, 2004
In Reply to: Re: The meaning of "po-faced"? posted by Shae on January 19, 2004
: : : : The Guardian: "...remembering his darling mummy, po-faced in her monster knickers, unable to laugh, cough or sneeze." I run across this expression again and again, but haven't been able to precisely understand it from context. Synonyms, anyone?
: : : It means wearing a disapproving, stern expression. It is often applied to a person who remains stern-faced when everyone else is enjoying themselves. The Collins Concise dictionary says it's derived from 'poor-faced.'
: : I always understood that it referred to the fixed expression that a poker player tries to adopt in order to hide his/her delight or disappointment at the cards they have been dealt.
: A Google-search suggests it can have both meanings. The Word Detective has: "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." Rounding out a rather unpleasant portrait, the OED lists the synonyms "priggish, narrow-minded or smug."
: The on-line dictionary at Allwords.com gives: po-faced, adj, derog colloq:
: 1. Wearing a disapproving or solemn expression.
: 2. Narrow-minded.
: Etymology: 1930s: perhaps from po (for pooh) or po1, influenced by poker-faced.
Sorry, I couldn't resist. I wonder where they got the names for the Teletubbies, anyway. Hearing the expression "po-faced" makes me think of Po the red (and youngest) teletubbie.