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[seem-lee] /ˈsim li/
adjective, seemlier, seemliest.
fitting or becoming with respect to propriety or good taste; decent; decorous:
Your outburst of rage was hardly seemly.
suitable or appropriate; fitting:
a seemly gesture.
of pleasing appearance; handsome.
in a seemly manner; fittingly; becomingly.
Origin of seemly
1175-1225; Middle English semely < Old Norse sæmiligr honorable; derivative of sœmr (see seem)
Related forms
seemliness, noun
1, 2. right, proper, appropriate, meet. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for seemliness
Historical Examples
  • seemliness is conduct which befits one's character and standards.


    William Graham Sumner
  • seemliness is a light, remote, and less important form of propriety.


    William Graham Sumner
  • But he is a great lord, and in seemliness he asks for a lie, and that which he asks is given to him—in seemliness.

    Judith Arnold Bennett
  • Mezura, seemliness, is contrasted with dezmezura, licentiousness.

  • All man's seemliness and affection for the natural things of earth were absent.

    Henry Brocken

    Walter J. de la Mare
  • Even unlucky devils, such as myself, are not without a certain respect for that which is fitting, for seemliness and etiquette.

  • At Nantes in Bretaigne dwelt a lady who was rich in beauty and wisdom and all seemliness.

  • “The palmyra palm has no shadow: the Paraiyan has no regard for seemliness” is a common Tamil proverb.

  • Unequal to the exercise of virtue itself, he thought he had done enough in preserving some of its seemliness.

  • There was nothing in his appearance which grated particularly upon Mr. Weatherley's sense of seemliness.

    The Lighted Way

    E. Phillips Oppenheim
British Dictionary definitions for seemliness


adjective -lier, -liest
proper or fitting
(obsolete) pleasing or handsome in appearance
(archaic) properly or decorously
Derived Forms
seemliness, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old Norse sœomiligr, from sœmr befitting
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for seemliness



"of pleasing or good appearance," also "proper, tasteful, decorous," early 13c., semlich, from Old Norse soemiligr "becoming, honorable," from soemr (see seem). Related: Seemliness. Cf. Old Norse soemleitr "fine to look at."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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