In Urban Dictionary I happened to stumble across a sentence. "This is my go-to expression". Is the use of "go-to" okay with facial expressions?

Here it is: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=go-to

A: You look grumpy, what's up?

B: Nothing, this is just my go-to face.

Does "go-to" sound okay here?

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    I don't think it's "okay". I think I know what he's my "go-to" man means, but I've no idea what my "go-to" face is supposed to mean, even given the context suggesting that it's some kind of "opposite" to a "grumpy" face. Commented May 31, 2019 at 17:47

1 Answer 1


"Go-to" can be legitimately used in the context of a facial expression (as well as many other things e.g. a go-to food, as in the Urban Dictionary example you linked to, for example "Chinese takeaway is my go-to food when I get home from work at 11pm, I'm hungry and haven't eaten". (means that I would normally order a Chinese takeaway in this situation)). Even if it isn't an established idiom, pretty much anything could be described as "my go-to X" in the right context. (e.g. "Oasis is my go-to band when I'm browsing Spotify and have no idea what to listen to").

"My go-to X" means, essentially, "the X that I default to in some situation".

However, it has a slightly different meaning than the one implied by the Urban Dictionary link in your Q. e.g. Cambridge defines "go-to" as:

used to describe the best person to deal with a particular problem or do a particular thing, or the best place to get a particular thing or service

In other words, a "go-to" facial expression (or food, or answer to a question, or item of clothing, or whatever else) is the one that you would typically (but actively) "go-to" first in any given situation, so for example, you might respond 'by default' to any given question with the facial expression of raising your eyebrows (or poking your tongue out, giving a "I'm thinking about that" face, or anything else) when you haven't thought about it or don't know what else to respond with, or find that that response is just applicable to most situations. And then that would be your "go-to" response (when you don't have anything better or more specific so you do that).

A "go-to" expression would not be 'one that you have on all the time', though, for example "resting b*** face" wouldn't typically be described as a go-to facial expression.

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