save face

save (one's) face

To try to regain favorable standing after something embarrassing has happened; to give or afford someone an opportunity to avoid embarrassment, humiliation, or shame. I tried to offer an explanation that incorporated elements of what he'd said as a means of saving his face after such an awkward presentation. There's no way for Audrey to save her face now that the entire company knows she embezzled money.
See also: face, save

save face

To try to regain favorable standing after something embarrassing has happened. I was late to the meeting but tried to save face by blaming an urgent call. There's no way for Audrey to save face now that the entire company knows she embezzled money.
See also: face, save
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

save (up) (for something)

to accumulate money in order to buy something. I can't buy a car because I am saving up for college. I don't have the money now, but I am saving up.


(one's) face Fig. to preserve one's good standing, pride, or high position (after a failure). The ambassador was more interested in saving his face than winning the argument. Most diplomats are concerned with saving face.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

save face

Avoid humiliation or embarrassment, preserve dignity, as in Rather than fire him outright, they let him save face by accepting his resignation. The phrase, which uses face in the sense of "outward appearances," is modeled on the antonym lose face. [Late 1800s]
See also: face, save
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

save face

COMMON If you save face, you do something so that people continue to respect you and your reputation is not damaged. Most children have a need to save face in front of their friends. Last Wednesday Poland somehow allowed the United States to take a three-goal lead before slightly saving face by scoring two themselves. Note: You can also talk about face-saving or a face-saving action. There have been no negotiations, no compromises and no attempts at face-saving. Officials are looking for a face-saving way to back down. Note: An action or excuse which enables someone to save face can be called a face-saver. The hope is that this exchange of prisoners will give the kidnappers the face-saver they need to release the hostages. Compare with lose face. Note: This comes from a Chinese expression which refers to keeping a calm expression and managing to avoid the disgrace of revealing one's emotions.
See also: face, save
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

save face

retain respect; avoid humiliation.
1994 Thomas Boswell Cracking Show And Rose got to save face, at least in his own eyes, with one last brassy news conference.
See also: face, save
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

save (somebody’s) ˈface

do something in order to keep the respect of other people: The announcement was an attempt by the government to save face. OPPOSITE: lose face ▶ ˈface-saving adj.: face-saving measures
See also: face, save
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

save face, to

To avoid embarrassment; to redeem one’s dignity. The face here means outward appearances, the face that one presents to the world. The concept itself is often regarded as quintessentially Asian but actually is far more widespread, and perhaps it always has been. A typical example of saving face might be to resign before one is fired. The term has been around since about 1900. W. Somerset Maugham used it in his first important novel, Of Human Bondage (1915): “To save his face he began making suggestions for altering it.”
See also: save, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
An Iranian general has claimed that the United States asked permission from Iran to bomb an empty site in Iran so as to save face after Iran shot down an American drone last month.
Meanwhile Save Face - the government-approved list of medically trained professionals who can administer botox and fillers - got a total of 934 complaints last year about unregistered practitioners.
John Bulalacao, Western Visayas police chief, denied this, saying Biron's camp was just trying to 'save face' and 'further gain the sympathy' of voters.
Regulator Save Face is worried the heavily reduced deals, widely plugged on social media, put customers in danger.
YDA BBH Wing President Dr Rana Muhammad Azeem said that the Punjab government, to save face on behalf of Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat, cannot restore Dr Niazi as the MS of the hospital.
Dr Martina Collins raised her concerns after shocking figures were released by Save Face.
Hence, in the face of imminent 2019 defeat, the PDP has chosen to hide behind lies and false realities to save face'.
Kinghorn stepped up to save face but fluffed his lines to seal a shock loss.
Summary: Analysts condemn Doha's naive attempts to save face by publishing false media reports that Saudi Arabia initiated latest dialogue
"This is Russia trying to save face, and they can't, they can't," Haley told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" yesterday.
Wijnaldum clipped in a cross before Mitrovic produced the equaliser with a headed goal to save face for United.
THE PEOPLE V OJ SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY BBC2, 9.00pm Having fled with Al Cowlings in the white Ford Bronco before the police arrived to arrest him, OJ Simpson becomes a hunted man as the district attorney's office and the LAPD scramble to save face and find him.
Ashton Collins, director of Save Face, which provides advice on nonsurgical cosmetic treatments, said: "There are no known side-effects, but this is quite a new treatment.
SAVE Face, based in Talbot Green, Rhondda Cynon Taff, is a database of cosmetic practitioners from around the UK who have been checked and visited by the organisation to ensure they are fit to administer treatments.