ap·​pear | \ ə-ˈpir How to pronounce appear (audio) \
appeared; appearing; appears

Definition of appear

intransitive verb

1a : to be or come in sight when the sun appears on the horizon
b : to show up He appears promptly at eight each day.
2 : to come formally before an authoritative body must appear in court today
3 : to have an outward aspect : seem She appears (to be) happy enough.
4 : to become evident or manifest There appears to be evidence to the contrary.
5 : to come into public view a performer who first appeared on a television variety show The book appeared in print a few years ago.
6 : to come into existence Hominids appeared late in the evolutionary chain.

Examples of appear in a Sentence

She appears a nice enough person. Winning the election appears unlikely at this point. One by one, the stars appeared in the sky. The sun began to appear from behind the clouds. The airplanes seemed to appear out of nowhere. The storm disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared. The cat appears at our kitchen door every morning. One of the guests appeared a few minutes late. He appeared a little before eight last night. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Still other states hold retention elections where judges, who are initially appointed to their positions, appear before voters who decide whether to keep them on the bench. Deanna Paul, WSJ, 30 July 2022 The most prominent of those cases, that of former Trump advisor Stephen K. Bannon, who refused to comply with a subpoena to appear before the panel or produce documents, ended with his conviction for contempt of Congress on Friday. Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times, 27 July 2022 Dow went on to appear on several other shows before breaking from acting to serve in the U.S. National Guard from 1965 to 1968. Tribune News Service, oregonlive, 26 July 2022 The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault could still compel Secret Service agents to appear before the panel by issuing a subpoena. Nicole Sganga, CBS News, 26 July 2022 Prosecutors are probably asking similar questions about Mr. Giuliani’s decision to appear before the two legislative committees. New York Times, 23 July 2022 He was sent a subpoena on Sept. 23, 2021, ordering him to produce requested documents by Oct. 7 and appear in person before the committee on Oct. 14. Ashraf Khalil,, 20 July 2022 Giuliani, who worked with Trump on plans to change election results in Georgia and other states, has not commented on the order to appear before the Atlanta grand jury. David Jackson, USA TODAY, 20 July 2022 In a court filing Wednesday, Willis informed the judge overseeing the special grand jury that Giuliani had been served with Farber’s final order instructing him to appear before the special grand jury. Kate Brumback, Anchorage Daily News, 20 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'appear.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of appear

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for appear

Middle English aperen, apperen, borrowed from Anglo-French apier-, aper-, tonic stem of aparer, apareir, aparoir, going back to Latin appārēre "to come into sight, be visible, be evident," from ad- ad- + pārēre "to be visible, be evident, be subject (to), comply (with)," of uncertain origin

Note: Latin pārēre has been compared with a supposed base *peh2-s-, suggested as the source of Avestan pišiiaṇt- "seeing," Armenian hayim "(I) look," Albanian pashë "(I) saw," though the limited nature of the evidence makes such a hypothesis speculative.

Learn More About appear

Time Traveler for appear

Time Traveler

The first known use of appear was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near appear

appeal to the country



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for appear

Last Updated

3 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Appear.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for appear


ap·​pear | \ ə-ˈpir How to pronounce appear (audio) \
appeared; appearing

Kids Definition of appear

1 : to come into sight Stars appeared in the sky.
2 : to present oneself appear in court
3 : seem sense 1 The runner in the lead appears to be tired.
4 : to come before the public The book appeared last year.
5 : to come into existence The first dinosaurs appeared around 215 million years ago.


intransitive verb

Legal Definition of appear

1 : to present oneself before a person or body having authority: as
a : to present oneself in court as a party to a lawsuit often through the representation of an attorney also : to participate as a party to a lawsuit in a way other than by physical presence (as by mail)
b : to present oneself in court as the attorney for a party to a lawsuit appearing for the defendant
2 : to have an outward look conduct that appears unethical

More from Merriam-Webster on appear

Nglish: Translation of appear for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of appear for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!