Face value

You might hear sentences and phrase like “don’t take this at face value” or “Can this be taken at face value?” So what does take someone or something at face value mean?

If you take something at face value you accept something as it appears, believe that they are the way they appear to be.  The same concept holds for people, to take somebody at face value also means to believe they are who they say they are and that their actions do not have any hidden agendas.

Don't take the info at face value, pic: seekingalpha.com

The phrase obviously derives from money – there the face value is the number that is written on it rather than the actual value of whatever you are handing over.  In case of a penny made between 1909 and 1982 (forget about rare and extra valuable ones for a second) the face value is $0.01 but the metal value of the (mostly) copper penny is $0.026.  The opposite is true for almost all other coins/notes (exception: Nickels made between 1946 and 2011) where the face value is higher than the value of the metal or paper they are made of.

Anyway, here is another example of using the phrase that has nothing to do with money “You shouldn’t take what people post about themselves on online dating sites at face value.  Generally they make themselves sound much better than they are.”

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