Wednesday Words & Phrases: Face the Music

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Face the Music

To Accept Punishment

When a military officer was to be ¬†kicked out of the service it is said that he was cashiered. This comes from the French¬†casser, “to break”. When this happened the officer would stand in front of the regimental drummer while the reasons for his dismissal was being read aloud, all the while the drummer played. After the reading was over the drums would change to a somber tattoo while the officer’s sword was broken and the buttons torn from his uniform. The rhythm of the drums would then change again as the officer was escorted from the scene.

Besides having “faced the music” the officer was also said to have been “drummed out”. “Drummed out” entered general speech in 1776, but “face the music” took much longer not reaching general use until the 1880’s.