What's the correct expression? I'm not a native speaker. I want to describe that he made a expression of shock; like pulled a face in shock; but I feel that's wrong. How can I see it concisely?


1 Answer 1


like pulled a face in shock; but I feel that's wrong.

It is. It does not say what sort of face he pulled, and that is needed because we need to know what has caused the shock - revulsion? Horror? Surprise? Delight?

Assume that his friend has just been shot dead: "His face registered the shock." "His face contorted with shock."

"Pulled a face" is informal and is likely only to be used with minor causes.

  • I wouldn't bet anybody knows what pull a face means.
    – tchrist
    May 23, 2022 at 21:40
  • 1
    @tchrist - It's a perfectly normal expression to me, but you 'pull a face' to make people laugh or when you taste something unpleasant, not to express shock at a serious event. May 24, 2022 at 8:04
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    @tchrist It's quite common in BE, OED: P2. With reference to facial expression: to make (also pull) a face: to distort the features in a grimace (sometimes with modifying word). -- 1980 O. Clark Diary 11 Aug. (1998) 105 Jerry..pulled a face and later said, ‘Every time I see her she slaps another writ or sues me.’-- 2007 Wired May 65/3 ‘What do you think’? she asks. ‘Owah’! I say, and make a face.
    – user81561
    May 24, 2022 at 9:07
  • aka make a face
    – Lambie
    Sep 25 at 16:03
  • To me pull a face suggests that the person is intentionally making that face, for effect, or even for a joke, rather than that it is a natural reaction to whatever has happened.
    – Colin Fine
    Sep 25 at 18:01

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