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

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

Examples from the Web for semblance

Contemporary Examples of semblance

Historical Examples of semblance

  • 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 for semblance

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

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