Posted by: Dutch | January 14, 2010

Face the music

Meaning

Accept the unpleasant consequences of one’s actions.

Origin

This may originate from the tradition of disgraced officers being ‘drummed out’ of their regiment, although there is no clear evidence to prove that theory. The phrase appears to be mid 19th American in origin and the earliest citation I can find for the phrase is from The Zanesville Courier, September 1848:

“One would think, at first sight, they [Lewis Cass’s supporters in the 1848 US presidential election] had a pretty fair ground and could make a pretty good fight; but some how they don’t face the music.”

As you can see, that makes no reference to ‘drumming out’.

– Sincerest thanks to Gary Martin of The Phrase Finder

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