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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 seemly
Historical Examples
  • More than a bare recital of the wretched facts, therefore, is not seemly.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • The kindliness of her heart and her desire for the seemly joys of life were unweakened.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • It is not seemly; moreover, notice must be given and arrangement made.

    Fair Margaret H. Rider Haggard
  • Things may perhaps occur which it is not seemly your gentle eyes should witness.

    The Shame of Motley Raphael Sabatini
  • Whether he was or not, he conceived that he had done the only seemly thing.

    Mistress Wilding Rafael Sabatini
  • Were it not seemly that you did since we are to be wed so soon?

    Love-at-Arms Raphael Sabatini
  • "Between gentlemen it would not be seemly," Mr. Caryll agreed.

    The Lion's Skin Rafael Sabatini
  • "Madam, this is not seemly," cried the second secretary, with awkward dignity.

    The Lion's Skin Rafael Sabatini
  • She seemed to think it not quite a seemly subject, yet she pursued it.

    Olive in Italy Moray Dalton
  • But it was not seemly to allow Mr. Cleever to depart; he was a great man.

    Soldiers Three, Part II. Rudyard Kipling
British Dictionary definitions for seemly


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 seemly

"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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