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

Donald M Lance lancedm at MISSOURI.EDU
Wed Jul 3 15:38:59 UTC 2002

on 7/3/02 10:09 AM, Douglas G. Wilson at douglas at NB.NET wrote:

>> 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
My own folk etymology for 'face the music' has always been facing the
trumpets that announce the impending volley of bullets in an execution


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