Definition of expression in English:



  • 1The action of making known one's thoughts or feelings.

    ‘the prisoners developed a dialect as an everyday means of expression’
    [count noun] ‘she accepted his expressions of sympathy’
    • ‘The bipartisan contempt for the needs of the working class also found expression in the reaction to the mayor's latest housing proposals.’
    • ‘Is it enough to consider the artifact as evidence of the problem solved, as an expression of the idea revealed?’
    • ‘This sense of failure in turn leads to the expression of impatience and anger toward the bereaved person.’
    • ‘For example, women may be more likely to seek out support groups or develop other areas for expression, such as writing.’
    • ‘It will teach you how to pinpoint the specific language she speaks and interprets as expression of love.’
    • ‘Anger is one of those emotions whose expression is sometimes subject to taboos, so people can grow up unable to recognize it.’
    • ‘His life shows that his unruly spirit found expression, joy, and satisfaction in scientific thinking and creation.’
    • ‘These words and actions were expressions of a deep unionist siege mentality and fear of being overrun.’
    • ‘Our culture tends to block and suppress the healthy expression of deep emotions.’
    • ‘The shift found expression in the political culture of the New Deal.’
    • ‘The theme Positive Emotionality was characterized by young fathers' positive expressions of emotions about their children.’
    • ‘This was the first expression of emotion Katrina had witnessed from Mara, so she stood there shocked.’
    • ‘Posts are written as a true expression of one's thoughts at the time.’
    • ‘For the modernist artist or writer, intellect had become a barrier to creativity and the expression of human emotion.’
    • ‘Needless to say, Haines has one or two grievances, and he's never been afraid to use his music to give them expression.’
    • ‘It's as if everything inside me has found expression all at once.’
    • ‘It found expression in ruthless exclusivism and hegemony.’
    • ‘He recognized the genuineness of her emotion and her expression of it, and changed as a result.’
    • ‘In the process, boys learn to repress emotion and inhibit the expression of personal feelings.’
    • ‘Rather, all this, in my opinion, is an expression of contempt for our environment and against the people in Galgate and Ellel.’
    utterance, uttering, voicing, pronouncement, declaration, articulation, verbalization, statement, proclamation, assertion, announcement, setting forth, venting, mouthing
    indication, intimation, demonstration, show, exhibition, manifestation, token
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    1. 1.1The conveying of feeling in a work of art or in the performance of a piece of music.
      ‘the testimony of musicians who worked with him proves that his overwhelming concern was with expression’
      • ‘Music is expression of divine melody, the same with the poetry.’
      • ‘For anyone who cares about music or artistic expression these presentations are riveting.’
      • ‘Ask any musician and they will tell you that music is about expression and conveying emotion.’
      • ‘Accorded with special multimedia installations, the musical programme aims at paying homage to artistic expression.’
      • ‘Puppets have been a sophisticated means of artistic expression, communication and instruction for a very long time.’
      • ‘They may recall traditional forms or be of modern artistic expression.’
      • ‘She is also interested in other forms of expression like dance, music and theatre.’
      • ‘It is used to give a vibrant and colourful expression to a variety of floral subjects painted in conventional and abstract settings.’
      • ‘It's not afraid to approach the body as a source of story, not over-intellectualizing yet still able to convey mood and expression.’
      • ‘The other part of the exhibition features the contemporary artistic expression of Greenlandic graphic art.’
      • ‘Now I must try to devote more of my attention to the level of musical growth and expression in my students' performances.’
      • ‘They turned the building into a workshop of activity, including meetings, music and other forms of political and artistic expression.’
      • ‘There may be a direct link between physical movement and rhythmical expression in music.’
      • ‘It really opened my eyes to new forms of expression in hip-hop music.’
      • ‘To a degree, the Fodor reminds me of Hummel in terms of variety of expression and overall musical fecundity.’
      • ‘The performances gain from free expression and improvisation and Soderbergh's habit of shooting in single takes.’
      • ‘She is not content with this; she wishes to put sentiment, expression, into the music.’
      • ‘In many traditions, dance has always been as much a part of religious expression and experience as music.’
      • ‘Similar to the way that dance relies to a great extent on music for rhythm and expression, dance in this piece wouldn't work without the set.’
      • ‘Folk music has often given form and expression to working communities needs and desires.’
      emotion, feeling, passion, intensity, poignancy
      diction, style, choice of words, turn of phrase, wording, phrasing, phraseology, language
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  • 2[count noun] A look on someone's face that conveys a particular emotion.

    ‘a sad expression’
    • ‘He could see the shocked expression in her eyes turn to hurt.’
    • ‘Her sobs died away, her pained expression softening.’
    • ‘His dark eyes were pleased with the expression of horror written on her face.’
    • ‘I spotted my friends at our usual table with perplexed expressions upon their faces.’
    • ‘His expression hardened and he met her golden gaze with a crystalline blue one.’
    • ‘Even Reagan had a puzzled expression upon her face.’
    • ‘The realization that Kenny went with the girls soon set in and his mother's expression turned to worry.’
    • ‘The man's apologetic expression melted into recognition.’
    • ‘Harold's pained expression changed rapidly to one of anger.’
    • ‘Mother's expression brightened when she saw Michael.’
    • ‘Noticing her worried expression, the new boy walked up to her.’
    • ‘His puzzled expression changed quickly to a grin.’
    • ‘The girl's expression turned from grief to anger yet again.’
    • ‘Jade nodded with a contemplative expression and led him down to the lower floors.’
    • ‘Trent rolled his eyes but smiled when he saw Ally's puzzled facial expression.’
    • ‘His father's stern expression melts away, and a smile forms on his face too.’
    • ‘Miguel saw her happy facial expression falter and knew something was up.’
    • ‘Walter sat and watched Richard's pensive face as he read, which eventually led to an expression of horror and fury.’
    • ‘The man's expression betrayed an undercurrent of suspicion and mistrust.’
    • ‘When he came back to our room he wore a pained expression on his face.’
    look, appearance, air, manner, bearing, countenance, guise, cast, aspect, impression
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  • 3[count noun] A word or phrase, especially an idiomatic one, used to convey an idea.

    ‘we have an expression, ‘You don't get owt for nowt.’’
    • ‘The emphasis is on learning simple words and expressions while building vocabulary rather than grammar.’
    • ‘We all start out using the simplest expressions and watch our phrases become increasingly more precise.’
    • ‘Everyday we receive more than 200 words and expressions, some of them are even disappearing phrases.’
    • ‘Mother had other words and expressions that I have never heard used by anyone else.’
    • ‘They converse in strange tongues, using words and expressions that are totally alien to me.’
    • ‘He scatters his French with convenient English words and expressions and has an infectious humour which translates well.’
    • ‘Linking r, common in many non-rhotic dialects of English, occurs in New England in expressions like the idea/r of it.’
    • ‘Spurred by fashion, an increasing number opt to sprinkle our daily Bahasa Indonesia with foreign words and expressions.’
    • ‘He has a thing for knock-knock jokes with no punch line and often misuses words and expressions.’
    • ‘I had asked him for permission to proceed, as I need to consult with him in matters of expressions and code words used by teens.’
    • ‘Whenever I used new words and expressions in my poems, my teacher would ask where I learnt them from.’
    • ‘It also contains one of the most comprehensive glossaries of local words and expressions to be found outside specialist books.’
    • ‘As a result, many of the phrases and expressions were translated into something very different in the subtitles or dubbing.’
    • ‘To increase the bamboozling affect I like to throw in words and expressions I hardly ever used when living in Australia.’
    • ‘It might not be a bad idea to review your own favorite phrases and expressions occasionally and replace them with fresh variations.’
    • ‘What about all those words and expressions that are absolutely untranslatable?’
    • ‘She loves interesting expressions, intriguing phrases and gets very excited when I describe a character in the book as a diamond geezer.’
    • ‘His stated object was to remove from the works ‘only those words and expressions which cannot with propriety be read aloud in a family’.’
    • ‘The first two are internal, one with simple word stems and the other with complex or idiomatic expressions.’
    • ‘In other words they are expressions that generally need explanations to be understood.’
    idiom, phrase, idiomatic expression, set phrase
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    1. 3.1Mathematics A collection of symbols that jointly express a quantity.
      ‘the expression for the circumference of a circle is 2πr’
      • ‘The function is also most often described using a formula, in the form of an algebraic expression.’
      • ‘Since the algebraic expressions for the roots z are rather complicated, we use numerical approximations from here on.’
      • ‘The first book studies generating functions and also approximations to various expressions occurring in probability theory.’
      • ‘Napier also found exponential expressions for trigonometric functions, and introduced the decimal notation for fractions.’
      • ‘These calculations not only involved difficult mathematical expressions but also dealt with heavy arithmetical calculations.’
  • 4The production of something by pressing it out.

    ‘essential oils obtained by distillation or expression’
    squeezing, pressing, wringing, forcing out, extraction, extracting
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  • 5Genetics
    The appearance in a phenotype of a characteristic or effect attributed to a particular gene.

    ‘expression of the TAT gene is restricted to the parenchymal cells’
    • ‘All six genes putatively involved in biosynthetic processes have detectable expression.’
    • ‘As gene frequencies change, natural selection acts on the outcome, the expression of those genes.’
    • ‘Recent data has shown that women can have full phenotypic expression of HH, including cirrhosis.’
    • ‘These two genes are both thought to be very important in the expression of the malignant phenotype.’
    • ‘It is thought to be a multigene dominant condition with variable phenotypic expression.’


Late Middle English: from Latin expressio(n-), from exprimere press out, express. Compare with express.