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English Idioms and Phrases: Face the music

Updated on January 30, 2016


To face the music means to accept the usually unpleasant consequences typically relating to your own actions. This is usually in the form of a punishment or reprimand.

"I was drunk and I embarrassed all of my friends, now I need to face the music"

"Stealing that car was a crime and now I need to face the music".


This phrase originates from the British military. In the army, when someone commits a crime or disobeyed orders, they may receive a court-marshal. Traditionally there was a military drum squad playing a beat i.e. music from the drums. Therefore if you were court-marshaled you literally had to receive a punishment to music and thus the phrase face the music began to be used.

This phrase is strongly connected to 'drummed out' or 'drummed out of the military'.

Similar idioms

To bite the bullet, to pay the piper (click links).

To face or to accept the consequences.


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