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From coal +‎ face.


coalface (plural coalfaces)

  1. (mining) The surface of coal exposed by mining, or a part of a coal seam that is currently being mined.
  2. (mining) The end of a drift, entry, or room in a coal mine.
  3. (figurative, UK) A place where difficult or strenuous work is done.
    • 2006, Alexandra Walsham, Charitable Hatred: Tolerance and Intolerance in England, 1500-1700, Manchester University Press, →ISBN:
      Works of this kind are necessarily parasitic upon the research of other scholars and I should like to express my gratitude to all those whose hard labour at the coalface has made my own endeavours possible.
    • 2007, Cathy Kelly, Best of Friends, Simon and Schuster, →ISBN, page 40:
      Lizzie had paid her own dues at the coalface of teething babies and gave the young mother an understanding grin in return.
    • 2010, Emma Kennedy, The Tent, the Bucket and Me, Random House, →ISBN, page 105:
      However, my mother, who had been at the coalface of the marital collapse, felt the need to have an in-depth debrief.
    • 2010, Alison Walsh, In My Mother's Shoes, Pan Macmillan, →ISBN:
      But we both know that all of this wonderful equilibrium comes at a cost: there is the tacit understanding that it's my turn to pursue my dreams whilst my husband slogs at the coalface.
  4. (figurative, UK) A place where more tangible, practical, or direct work of an activity is done, as opposed to theoretical or managerial work.
    • 2006, Anne Bamford, The Wow Factor: Global research compendium on the impact of the arts in education, Waxmann Verlag, →ISBN, page 57:
      While schools were seen to be at the coalface of administering arts education, teachers, artists and children were rarely consulted in relation to the development of arts education policy.
    • 2010, Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, Exporting out of recession: third report of session 2009-10. Oral and written evidence, The Stationery Office →ISBN, page 20
      By all means look at streamlining systems, look at changing the way that you produce public services for sure, but please do not cut at the coalface. That goes for a teacher, it goes for a policeman and it goes for a nurse.
    • 2011, Fiona O'Loughlin, Me of the Never Never: The chaotic life and times of Fiona O'Loughlin, Hachette UK, →ISBN:
      I wondered which next superstar I might have the privilege of seeing live at the coalface of stardom in Hollywood.
    • 2023 September 3, Steve Lamacq, (Please provide the book title or journal name)[1]:
      It’s been terrific doing six shows a week, but what with all the prep work for the programmes and the ever-increasing volume of new music to listen to, there’s not been nearly enough time left over for my family. And to be honest, after nearly 40 years at the coalface of new music, I think I need a bit of breather.


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See also[edit]


  • coalface”, in OneLook Dictionary Search.