The Frown

Communicative Meaning of Frowning

The act of frowning
The act of frowning. Photo courtesy of PHI ClinicOpens in new window

A frown—also known as a scowl—is a facial expressionOpens in new window in which the eyebrows are brought together, and the forehead is wrinkled.

As a people, we engage in frowning to convey displeasure, sadness, or disapproval, and confusion or deep concentration in some cases.

The emotion (icon) that symbolizes a frown is a curve of the lips facing away from the eyes (‘down’). Hence, the frown is related to the mouth. However, it also has to do with the wrinkling of the eyebrow.

The frown can be distinguished from the smile. While the smileOpens in new window tends to convey the general states of acceptance and agreement, the frown indicates states of rejection and disagreement. The genuine smile usually displays appreciation, agreement, protection, and so on. A frown may suggest the very opposite: confusion, unacceptability, disagreement, and so on.

A frown most commonly expresses sadness, dissatisfaction, anger, worry, or pain. In some cases, it is also a sign of deep concentration.