ap·​pear·​ance | \ ə-ˈpir-ən(t)s How to pronounce appearance (audio) \

Definition of appearance

1a : external show : semblance Although hostile, he preserved an appearance of neutrality.
b : outward aspect : look had a fierce appearance
c appearances plural : outward indication trying to keep up appearances
2a : a sense impression or aspect of a thing The blue of distant hills is only an appearance.
b : the world of sensible phenomena
3a : the act, action, or process of appearing the first appearance of that word in English
b law : the presentation of oneself in court as a party to an action often through the representation of an attorney
4a : something that appears : phenomenon
b : an instance of appearing : occurrence her first public appearance since winning the award

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for appearance


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of appearance in a Sentence

The general appearance of the house is quite good. The museum restored the painting to its original appearance. lotions that improve your skin's appearance and texture You shouldn't judge a man by his appearance. Have you noticed any changes in her appearance? He appears to be happy, but appearances can be deceptive. Their expensive home created a false appearance of success and happiness.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Like most of the Festival lineup, their appearance will be available for viewing, in its entirety, through October 13th with the purchase of a ticket. Dan Stahl, The New Yorker, "Jerry Seinfeld and Steve Martin on Comedy and Paying Attention," 8 Oct. 2020 Pence’s last appearance in this venue was a success. David Weigel, Anchorage Daily News, "Analysis: What to expect in the Pence-Harris debate based on their past performances," 7 Oct. 2020 William Abadie, who plays the perfumer Antoine, also made a brief appearance in Gossip Girl as Roman, Blair's stepfather. Natalie Morin,, "Wait — Is Blake Lively Watching Emily In Paris?," 5 Oct. 2020 In a brief appearance, Holder noted Republican lawmakers took just seconds last year to shut down a special legislative session on requiring background checks for all gun purchases even though the idea is supported by 80% of Wisconsinites. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Eric Holder addresses Wisconsin redistricting panel, prompting criticism from GOP," 1 Oct. 2020 Outside of a brief appearance with Overseas Elite in The Basketball Tournament, Simmons spent the next 5½ months working out in his native Houston, driving his four daughters to school and waiting for another crack at the NBA. Connor Letourneau,, "Jonathon Simmons looks to resuscitate NBA career with Warriors," 29 Sep. 2020 Young didn’t register a tackle or sack in his brief appearance. Scott Patsko, cleveland, "Browns Winners and Losers Week 3: Myles Garrett, Baker Mayfield and no unhappy returns," 28 Sep. 2020 Lightning center Steven Stamkos, who scored in a brief appearance in Game 3, sat out Game 4. Mike Brehm, USA TODAY, "Time, TV, streaming info on Tampa Bay Lightning's potential Stanley Cup clincher vs. Dallas Stars in Game 5," 26 Sep. 2020 Briefly — Lightning captain Steven Stamkos missed Game 4 with an injury after making a brief but memorable appearance in Game 3. Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, "John Klingberg’s tenacious goal in Game 4 continues Stars’ trend of scoring on rebounds," 26 Sep. 2020

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

See More

First Known Use of appearance

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for appearance

re-formation (after appear) of Middle English apparence, aparaunce, borrowed from Anglo-French apparaunce, apparence, borrowed from Late Latin appārentia, noun derivative of Latin appārent-, appārens, present participle of appārēre "to be visible, appear"

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about appearance

Time Traveler for appearance

Time Traveler

The first known use of appearance was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for appearance

Last Updated

14 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Appearance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for appearance


How to pronounce appearance (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of appearance

somewhat formal : the way that someone or something looks
: a way of looking that is not true or real
: the action of appearing : the fact that something or someone arrives or begins to be seen


ap·​pear·​ance | \ ə-ˈpir-əns How to pronounce appearance (audio) \

Kids Definition of appearance

1 : the way something looks The room has a cool appearance.
2 : the act or an instance of appearing His sudden appearance startled us.


ap·​pear·​ance | \ ə-ˈpir-ən(t)s How to pronounce appearance (audio) \

Medical Definition of appearance

1 : the action or process of becoming evident to the senses the sudden appearance of a rash on the body
2 : the outward or visible aspect of something a tumor with a spongy appearance

Other Words from appearance

appear \ ə-​ˈpi(ə)r How to pronounce appear (audio) \ intransitive verb

Keep scrolling for more



Legal Definition of appearance

1 : the presentation of oneself in court as a party to or as an attorney for a party to a lawsuit also : a document filed in court by an attorney declaring his or her representation of a party to a lawsuit — see also general appearance, special appearance
2 : outward look a lawyer should avoid the appearance of impropriety

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on appearance

What made you want to look up appearance? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Namesakes Word Quiz

  • a citrus fruit possibly named after a person
  • Which of the following is a fruit named after a Moroccan seaport?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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