Two old friends run into each other after long time. Now one of them's saying to another:

I can't get over the way your face looks.

What does that mean? In particular, what does get over mean here?

  • Hmm, I couldn't find an appropriate definition here, and I'm having a hard time thinking of how to explain it. – Ben Kovitz Jan 29 '15 at 20:02
  • @Ben Kovitz Could it be " to forget" – Mrt Jan 29 '15 at 20:19
  • Possibly it means that "your face looks way more different than it was. And I don't get how it's changed." Or, it could mean that "I'll never forget what your face looks like". I came along these results with "Pythagorical" thinking! :-) – It's Over Jan 29 '15 at 20:20
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    Consider: "7. To come to understand or no longer be surprised by something. Used in the negative: I can't get over the fact that he's still living in that awful apartment." Idioms by The Free Dictionary – F.E. Jan 29 '15 at 20:41
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    @F.E. That's the right answer! – Ben Kovitz Jan 30 '15 at 3:37

The phrasal verb get over means recover from. It's often used in the context of overcoming illness, injury, or a painful experience, but I like the way this Oxford dictionary defines it:

get over (phrasal verb) recover from (an ailment or an upsetting or startling experience): ‘the trip will help him get over Sal’s death’

In this case, the person is simply surprised by his old friend's face. We don't know why (context doesn't say), but we can make some guesses:

I can't get over the way your face looks – you look so young! (surprise)

I can't get over the way your face looks – your wife's death must have been hard on you. (empathy)

I can't get over the way your face looks – where is that face painting booth? (laughter)

Any of those three are possible, but I suspect it would be the first. It mirrors what one person wrote in an advertisement for a nutrition product:

Recently I was at a gathering, and was in the company of a man I'd worked with in 2003 and 2004.
I noticed he kept watching me. Finally I went over to him, extended my hand and introduced myself.
He said, “I know who you are, I just can’t get over how you look. You look twenty years younger.”


I can't get over something means you've become fixated on it, preoccupied with it, or even mildly obsessed with it.

Saying I can't get over your face means that I'm fixated on your face, probably either because I find it very attractive or very unattractive.

  • A close friend wouldn't know the other one unattractively impossible to forget! – It's Over Jan 29 '15 at 20:31

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