I am reading Agatha Christie's Peril at End House. Can anyone help me understand what "her face was innocent of make" means in the following paragraph?

It was, I think, her appearance of calm good sense that so attracted me. A quiet girl, pretty in the old-fashioned sense-certainly not smart. Her face was innocent of make-up and she wore a simple, rather shabby, black evening dress. She had frank blue eyes, and a pleasant slow voice.

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    It appears you may have some difficulty with the meaning of common English words. Reading fiction and classic works of literature in general is a great way to study English, so you are definitely on the right path. I suggest you visit the Stack Exchange site dedicated to English grammar study: English Language Learners. Your questions such as this one are on-topic on ELL.SE and normally will attract more detailed explanations there, since a lot of ELL regulars are adept and experienced at explaining English grammar to English learners.
    – Eddie Kal
    Sep 2, 2020 at 0:25

2 Answers 2


"Make-up" is a single compound word meaning cosmetics applied on the face.

"Innocent" here simply means "without". Per Google/Lexico:

without; lacking.
"a street quite innocent of bookstores"

So "her face was innocent of make-up" means "her face was without make-up", or "she didn't use any cosmetics on her face."


Make-up was long held to be morally questionable. You wore it to be more alluring, it misrepresented what you actually looked like, and you were risking your life and health for mere vanity, perhaps, especially if you used lead-based or arsenic-based make-up.

This view was decreasing but not wholly gone by the time this book published. Therefore, metaphorically calling the absence of make-up "innocence" was implying she had a degree of virtue for not wearing it -- and underscoring how she was still so "old-fashioned" as to refrain.

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