Here’s What the Universal ‘Not Face’ Looks Like, Says Science

“Nope” may be the internet’s one-word meme for anything morally offensive, but “not face” has been around way longer, according to science. A new study identifies a distinct facial expression for disapproval that’s universal, and probably predates language.

“Not face” combines the furrowed brows of anger, the raised chin of disgust, and the pursed lips of contempt to create an unmistakable look that says, “I don’t agree,” in pretty much any language — including sign language.

The study was led by the same team that pinpointed 21 distinct emotional expressions — and variations on “not face” were included. One example is “happy not face,” which happens when you’re disgusted yet amused, such as when you watch a baby spit up, for instance.

Fascinated by this facial equivalent of “nope,” we scoured the Internet for examples of celebrities who embody “not face” and all its close counterparts. Our search led us directly to the queen of countenances: FLOTUS, whose classic “not face,” seen here,

(Photo: Getty Images)

is rivaled only by her “judgy not face,” a viral sensation, seen here.

(Photo: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Then there’s Kanye, whose “not face” 

(Photo: Getty Images)

and “oh, it’s like that? not face” (when the brows are raised, not furrowed). 

(Photo: Getty Images)

In general, you can easily identify “not face” on the mugs of people who are simply not shy about showing disapproval — think Jennifer Lawrence 

(Photo: Getty Images)

or Nicki Minaj 

(Photo: Getty Images)

or Britney Spears 

(Photo: Fox)

during practically their entire tenures as American Idol judges.

Of course, how can we mention Brit and Nicki without revisiting the many “not faces” of Simon Cowell — from the classic “nope” 

(Photo: Everett Collection)

to “am I really listening to this nope” 

(Photo: Fox)

and “my ears are bleeding nope”?

(Photo: Fox)

But if you truly want to trace “not face” back to its pop-culture pioneer, you need to look no further than the diva of disapproval herself: Grumpy Cat, who perfected the grimace we can’t get enough of before scientists even knew it was a thing. 

Wait, did you think Grumpy was a boy?? 


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