to save face

Idiom Definition

Idiom Definition - save face

"to save face"

to avoid humiliation or embarrassment by doing something to maintain the respect of other people


Related words and phrases:

Idiom Scenario 1

Idiom Definition - save face

Two colleagues are talking ...

Colleague 1:  Have you heard that the vice-president of sales resigned?

Colleague 2:  I heard that he was fired for incompetence but that the company allowed him to resign to save face.

Colleague 1:  I suppose that it would look really bad for everyone for the VP to have been fired.

Colleague 2:  Sure. The company doesn't lose the respect of the business community for having hired an incompetent senior executive and the VP gets to keep his dignity.

Idiom Scenario 2

Idiom Definition - save face

Two friends are talking ...

Friend 1:  Why is Eric saying he broke up with Sylvia when it was Sylvia that dumped Eric?

Friend 2:  Because it is embarrassing for Eric and he wants to save face in front of his friends.

to save face - Usage:


Usage Frequency Index:   1,212   click for frequency by country

to save face - Gerund Form:

Saving face can be critical to successful business negotiations.

to save face - Examples:

1)  ... people looking at him, he knows he is doing the wrong thing and to save face tends to stay within the law.

2)  ... then PM can save face and blame Zahid and others for it.

3)  ... really mean the club's decision to sack him and let him save face by resigning instead of being sacked.

4)  ... the ability to deny that any such hacks actually took place, allowing them to save face with their customers. 

5)  ... that such high-profile cases typically receive carefully neutral and vague decision allowing both sides to save face, declare victory and get back to the politics as usual.

6)  If there is a complaint, the customer must be able to save face as well as have the complaint resolved if they are to be a customer ...

7)  Occasionally, people make a false report to save face and keep a relationship intact, he noted.

8)  Some have lost their regular employment and, to save face, describe themselves as "freelance" rather than "on the dole".

9)  ... our women always find excuses for the erring behaviour of their spouses in order to save face?

10)  ... that he was responsible, he denied any involvement with the maid to save face!

11)  ... so they gradually come to make the right decision and save face.

12)  It's about councillors now trying to save face and telling blatant lies, thereby being completely untrustworthy.

13)  ... but now it is just a desperate attempt to save face after a massive failure to hastily push for the controversial penal law.

14)  Don't do yet another cover up - you can not save face on this one - it's gone far too far for that!

15)  ... seemed to be struggling from the first bell as he mostly deployed defensive tactics to save face.

16)  This whole narrative is a way of saving face for Democrats losing an election that everyone thought they were supposed to win.

17)  ... had to carry out the change in way that was respectful to King. Saving face is important in politics and there will be plenty of positive public statements now ...

18)  Cases should not be swept under the rug for the sake of saving face.

19)  ... genders respond to rejection differently, with women working harder to be accepted and men saving face by disengaging, it stings either way. 

20)  Tuesday's concession was simply an effort at saving face - a small nod toward politics and diplomacy, maybe in the hopes of ...