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Face the music

Posted by ESC on March 20, 2001

In Reply to: Face the music posted by Steve on March 20, 2001

: Can someone tell me the origins of the term "to face the music"?

FACE THE MUSIC -- To confront or cope with a difficult situation. The music that was being faced, in a situation where courage was required, is now uncertain. It may have been the pit orchestra in a theater; a nervous actor who steeled himself to go on stage would be facing the music (as well as the audience). It may have been the soldier being dismissed from his regiment in disgrace; it was sometimes the practice for the band to play the 'Rogue's March' on such an occasion. In any event, the saying was common by 1851. M. Schele de Vere in his book on 'Americanisms' quotes James Fenimore Cooper as saying in 1851: 'Rabelais' unpleasant quarter' is by our more picturesque people called 'facing the music.'." From "The Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).