"face the music" from "face the music of war"

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Wed Jul 3 15:09:28 UTC 2002

>2) facing the music of an advancing army (in an attack)--drums,
>fifes, bagpipes, whatever.

Whatever indeed!

RHHDAS gives "music" = "gunfire", with examples from 1864, 1865, 1927, 1940.

RHHDAS also gives the earlier sense of "face the music" as "face danger or
hardship": I guess facing gunfire would fill the bill.

Another speculation is that the music faced is the music played to
accompany a military punishment or "dishonorable discharge" in the 'old
days'. I don't know whether this is legitimate or not.

-- Doug Wilson

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