keep up appearances, to maintain a public impression of decorum, prosperity, etc., despite reverses, unfavorable conditions, etc.: They tried to keep up appearances after losing all their money.
    make an appearance, to come; arrive: He didn't make an appearance until after midnight.
    put in an appearance, to attend a gathering or meeting, especially for a very short time: The author put in an appearance at the cocktail party on her way to dinner.

Origin of appearance

1350–1400; appear + -ance; replacing Middle English aparance < Anglo-French, Old French < Late Latin appārentia, neuter plural of Latin appārēns apparent
Related formspre·ap·pear·ance, nounre·ap·pear·ance, nounsub·ap·pear·ance, noun

Synonyms for appearance

Synonym study

2. Appearance, aspect, guise refer to the way in which something outwardly presents itself to view. Appearance refers to the outward look: the shabby appearance of his car. Aspect refers to the appearance at some particular time or in special circumstances; it often has emotional implications, either ascribed to the object itself or felt by the beholder: In the dusk the forest had a terrifying aspect. Guise suggests a misleading appearance, assumed for an occasion or a purpose: under the guise of friendship. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for appearance

Contemporary Examples of appearance

Historical Examples of appearance

  • There was a scar on one cheek, and, altogether, he was not very prepossessing in his appearance.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Bates was a stout sailor, rough in appearance, but with a warm and kindly heart.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • I was very much annoyed at the natives not putting in appearance as promised.

  • The appearance of the country ahead is better than it looked yesterday.

  • The appearance of Mr. Gladstone was the signal for great applause.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

British Dictionary definitions for appearance



the act or an instance of appearing, as to the eye, before the public, etc
the outward or visible aspect of a person or thingher appearance was stunning; it has the appearance of powdered graphite
an outward show; pretencehe gave an appearance of working hard
(often plural) one of the outward signs or indications by which a person or thing is assessedfirst appearances are deceptive
  1. the formal attendance in court of a party in an action
  2. formal notice that a party or his legal representative intends to maintain or contest the issueto enter an appearance
  1. the outward or phenomenal manifestation of things
  2. the world as revealed by the senses, as opposed to its real natureCompare reality (def. 4)
keep up appearances to maintain the public impression of wellbeing or normality
put in an appearance or make an appearance to come or attend briefly, as out of politeness
to all appearances to the extent that can easily be judged; apparently
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

Word Origin and History for appearance

late 14c., "visible state or form, figure; mere show," from Anglo-French apparaunce, Old French aparance "appearance, display, pomp" (13c.), from Latin apparentia, abstract noun from aparentem, past participle of apparere (see appear). Meaning "semblance" is recorded from early 15c.; that of "action of coming into view" is mid-15c. Phrase keep up appearances attested from 1760 (save appearances in same sense is 1711).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with appearance


see keep up appearances; put in an appearance.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.