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

intransitive verb

: to be or come in sight
when the sun appears on the horizon
: to show up
He appears promptly at eight each day.
: to come formally before an authoritative body
must appear in court today
: to have an outward aspect : seem
She appears (to be) happy enough.
: to become evident or manifest
There appears to be evidence to the contrary.
: to come into public view
a performer who first appeared on a television variety show
The book appeared in print a few years ago.
: 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 An Iowa man was arrested 20 hours after failing to appear in court the day he was found guilty of murdering his wife in 2021. Alexis Jones, Peoplemag, 24 Sep. 2023 After Elon Musk claimed recently that primates used in Neuralink implant research were close to death anyway, a WIRED investigation this week revealed grisly details about the truth of their deaths that appear to dispute the characterization that the animals were all terminally ill. WIRED, 23 Sep. 2023 Facing the sectional is a wall of marble tiles that appears three dimensional. Caron Golden, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Sep. 2023 Photos and videos of the idyllic scene along a winding, unpaved road have appeared across social media in recent years, fueling the frenzy of visitors during peak fall foliage. Praveena Somasundaram, Washington Post, 23 Sep. 2023 None of this appears to have harmed the careers of those involved. Alexander Smith, NBC News, 23 Sep. 2023 In Ceretti and Attal's case, this appears to be what's colloquially known as a banana bag, according to a representative at The IV Doc, an IV therapy business in New York, London, and Los Angeles. Margaux Anbouba, Vogue, 23 Sep. 2023 The documentary also highlights that Donyale could have appeared in American Vogue in October of that year. Mikelle Street, Essence, 22 Sep. 2023 The full context of the conversation is unknown, but the participants, who are in the labor community appear to be messaging about general union issues and strategy. Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, 22 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'appear.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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.

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near appear

Cite this Entry

“Appear.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


ap·​pear ə-ˈpi(ə)r How to pronounce appear (audio)
: to come into sight : become plain : show
stars appeared in the sky
: to present oneself formally (as to answer a charge)
appear in court
: seem sense 1, look
things are not always as they appear
appears to be tired
: to come before the public
appears on television

Legal Definition


intransitive verb
: to present oneself before a person or body having authority: as
: 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)
: to present oneself in court as the attorney for a party to a lawsuit
appearing for the defendant
: to have an outward look
conduct that appears unethical

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