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[sem-bluh ns] /ˈsɛm bləns/
outward aspect or appearance.
an assumed or unreal appearance; show.
the slightest appearance or trace.
a likeness, image, or copy.
a spectral appearance; apparition.
Origin of semblance
1250-1300; Middle English < Middle French, equivalent to sembl(er) to seem (see resemble) + -ance -ance
1. aspect, exterior, mien, air. 2. seeming. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for semblance
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The lawyer, therefore, leaned forward with a semblance of frank eagerness.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • It was merely a semblance, which effaced itself; the vanishing of an illusion.

    The Dream Emile Zola
  • The yards, taken as a whole, have some semblance to a real garden.

    The Mystery of Murray Davenport Robert Neilson Stephens
  • We shall have him,' he cried, ridding himself of the semblance as hastily as he had assumed it.

    Barnaby Rudge Charles Dickens
  • The semblance of a trial followed; he was condemned and transported to Cayenne.

    A Zola Dictionary J. G. Patterson
British Dictionary definitions for semblance


outward appearance, esp without any inner substance or reality
a resemblance or copy
Word Origin
C13: from Old French, from sembler to seem, from Latin simulāre to imitate, from similis like
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 semblance

c.1300, "fact of appearing to view," from Old French semblance, from semblant "likeness, appearance," present participle of sembler "to seem, appear," from Latin simulare "to resemble, imitate," from similis "like" (see similar (adj.)). Meaning "person's appearance or demeanor" is attested from c.1400; that of "false, assumed or deceiving appearance" is from 1590s. Meaning "person or thing that resembles another" is attested from 1510s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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