I want to describe that a certain action gives you '面子', or that people do things to try and maintain or protect their '面子' but I can't think of an appropriate English word for it.

  • 6
    Have you checked out Wikipedia? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Face_(sociological_concept)
    – NS.X.
    Apr 23, 2013 at 1:09
  • 4
    Exactly: It's just "face". It's a direct translation from Chinese, but the usage is widely understood and long standing (since at least the late 1800's). Apr 23, 2013 at 1:21
  • It just seems to be more of a Chinese concept/semantic, so I wasn't sure whether a direct translation is appropriate. But based on the comments I think it is the best option. Apr 23, 2013 at 3:50
  • 3
    It had been assimilated into English vocab quite some time ago as Pete pointed out. Apr 23, 2013 at 8:00
  • The idea has been brought to the West at the time of trading in Qing. The word "lose face" is directly used in English so I think "face" is fine. Aug 11, 2015 at 9:21

3 Answers 3


You just need to use face, prestige, reputation, and so on.

  • 爱面子 be keen on face-saving
  • 保全/顾全面子 save face
  • 丢面子 lose face
  • 给面子 give face to somebody
  • 面子问题 matter of face; issue concerning one’s reputation

I hope that would be useful for you.

  • 3
    Give face to somebody 翻譯有點牽強…… Apr 23, 2013 at 7:13
  • @Derek朕會功夫 This is an interesting term. It doesn't sound forced at all to me, however, it seems to be used more when associated with the Chinese as it is, after all, culturally specific. Normally, one would simply say, to honour or to pay respect to (someone's sensitivity or sensibilities), but these lack the cultural nuance that comes with to 'give face'. Apr 23, 2013 at 8:03
  • I definitely think that there are some context where a direct translation is appropriate, but some sound a bit unnatural. Apr 24, 2013 at 6:31
  • 1
    From time to time I heard people (English speaking) using "save face" or "to save face" in conversation. It is also in this online idioms dictionary.
    – John Siu
    Apr 24, 2013 at 15:38
  • @JohnSiu Yes. Wiktionary even says that "lose face" came into English from Chinese. Certainly English uses "face" this way. Feb 4, 2015 at 3:33

面子 = Face, self-esteem, etc. A word can contain many meanings by how you use it in a sentence. If you split those two words it will have even more meanings. So just by how you use it in a sentence.


"面子" means the reputation and Compliment from others

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