late 13c., "front of the head," from Old French face (12c.) "face, countenance, look, appearance," from Vulgar Latin *facia (cf. Italian faccia), from Latin facies "appearance, form, figure," and secondarily "visage, countenance;" probably related to facere "to make" (see factitious).
Replaced Old English andwlita (from root of wlitan "to see, look") and ansyn, the usual word (from the root of seon "see"). In French, the use of face for "front of the head" was given up 17c. and replaced by visage (older vis), from Latin visus "sight." To lose face (or save face), 1876, is said to be from Chinese tu lien. Face value was originally (1878) of bank notes, postage stamps, etc.