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on the face of it


from appearances alone


adverb (modifies a verb, adjective, or other adverb)


more on the face of it


most on the face of it

Original source:

Princeton WordNet

Usage example:

on the face of it the problem seems minor

Definition references

Random House Dictionary:

face | faced [past tense] | facing [present participle] | phiz [slang] | face to face [sense-specific] | face to face with [sense-specific] | fly in the face of [sense-specific] | get out of someone's face [sense-specific] | in the face of [sense-specific] | ...

the front part of the head, from the forehead to the chin. | a look or expression on this part. | an expression or look that indicates ridicule, ... (26 of 1076 words, 56 definitions, 38 usage examples, pronunciation)


Macmillan British Dictionary:

face [countable] | faces [plural] | face down | someone's face fits | face up | from/off the face of the earth | in the face of something | make/pull a face | on the face of the earth | ...

the front part of your head, where your eyes, nose, and mouth are ; the ... | a side of a mountain or building that is high and very steep | one side ... (31 of 517 words, 18 definitions, 21 usage examples, pronunciation)


Collins Dictionary:

on the face of it

to all appearances (3 of 512 words, 9 usage examples)


Oxford Dictionary:

on the face of it | apparently [synonym, sense-specific]

without knowing all of the relevant facts; apparently | See parent entry "face" (12 of 60 words, 2 definitions, 1 usage example)

oxforddictionaries​.com​/definition​/english​/on the face of it 1


apparently | on the face of it [idiomatic] | obviously [synonym, sense-specific] | plainly [synonym, sense-specific] | clearly [synonym, sense-specific] | evidently [synonym, sense-specific] | ostensibly [synonym, sense-specific] | seemingly [synonym, sense-specific] | allegedly [synonym, sense-specific] | ...

Plainly; clearly; manifestly; evidently. | Seemingly; in appearance only. | According to what the speaker has read or been told. (18 of 42 words, 3 definitions, 4 usage examples, pronunciations)


Cambridge Dictionary:

on the face of it

used when you are describing how a situation seems on the surface (12 of 33 words, 1 usage example)


New World Dictionary:

seeming | seemingly [adverb, related]

that seems real, true, etc. without necessarily being so; apparent | outward appearance; semblance (13 of 20 words, 2 definitions, 1 usage example, pronunciation)


American Heritage Dictionary:

seeming | seemingly [adverb, related] | seemingness [noun, related]

Apparent; ostensible. | Outward appearance; semblance. (5 of 12 words, 2 definitions, pronunciation)



ostensibly | evidently [synonym, sense-specific] | apparently [synonym, sense-specific] | ostensively [synonym, sense-specific] | presumably [synonym, sense-specific] | putatively [synonym, sense-specific] | seemingly [synonym, sense-specific] | supposedly [synonym, sense-specific] | externally [similar, sense-specific] | ...

in an ostensible manner | to all outward appearances (8 of 180 words, 2 definitions, 1 usage example, pronunciation)



Apparent [disambiguation]

may refer to: Apparent magnitude, measure of brightness of a celestial body as seen by an observer on Earth | Heir apparent, person who is first in line of succession | Apparent death, an antipredator behavior known as playing dead | Apparent wind,... (40 of 124 words, 7 definitions)


Encarta Dictionary:

seeming | seemingly [adverb, derived]

apparent to the senses or to the mind, but not necessarily true or real (14 of 32 words, pronunciation)

encarta​.msn​.com​/dictionary 1861715721​/definition​.html  [offline]

Page last updated: 2013-06-26

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