adjective, seem·li·er, seem·li·est.

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 formsseem·li·ness, noun

Synonyms for seemly Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for seemliness

Historical Examples of seemliness

  • 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.


    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

British Dictionary definitions for seemliness


adjective -lier or -liest

proper or fitting
obsolete pleasing or handsome in appearance


archaic properly or decorously
Derived Formsseemliness, noun

Word Origin for seemly

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

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