Meaning of “expression” in the English Dictionary

"expression" in British English

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uk /ɪkˈspreʃ.ən/ us /ɪkˈspreʃ.ən/

expression noun (SHOWING)

B2 [ C or U ] the act of saying what you think or showing how you feel using words or actions:

He wrote her a poem as an expression of his love.
We've received a lot of expressions of support for our campaign.
Freedom of expression is a basic human right.
It's better to give expression to (= show) your anger, rather than hiding it.
formal His sadness at the death of his wife found expression (= was shown) in his music.
She plays the violin with great expression (= feeling).

B2 [ C ] the look on someone's face, showing what they feel or think:

I could tell from her expression that something serious had happened.
Mark always has such a miserable expression on his face.

More examples

  • I could tell from his grim expression that the news was not good.
  • He listened to the music with an expression of pure rapture on his face.
  • She looked at him with a surprised expression on her face.
  • Modernism seeks to find new forms of expression and rejects traditional or accepted ideas.
  • In this role, Durante is able to give full expression to that wonderfully virile voice.

expression noun (WORDS)

B2 [ C ] a word or group of words used in a particular situation or by particular people:

He uses a lot of unusual expressions.
"A can of worms" is an expression that means "a difficult situation".

More examples

  • The expression "boy band" was coined in the 90s.
  • There is no English equivalent for 'bon appetit' so we have adopted the French expression.

(Definition of “expression” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"expression" in American English

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us /ɪkˈspreʃ·ən/

[ C ] a word or group of words having a particular meaning or used in a particular way:

That was an expression he hadn’t heard before, and wondered what it meant.

mathematics [ C ] An expression is also a mathematical statement that includes numbers, symbols, or both.

expression noun (SHOW)

[ C/U ] the act of showing a feeling or idea, or a feeling or idea that is shown:

[ C ] She had such a sad expression on her face that I wondered what was wrong.
[ U ] Freedom of expression is a cherished right in democracies.

(Definition of “expression” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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