sem·blance | \ ˈsem-blən(t)s \

Definition of semblance 

1a : outward and often specious appearance or show : form wrapped in a semblance of composure —Harry Hervey

b : modicum has been struggling to get some semblance of justice for his people —Bayard Rustin

3a : a phantasmal form : apparition

b : image, likeness

4 : actual or apparent resemblance her story bears some semblance to the truth

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Examples of semblance in a Sentence

tried to project some semblance of confidence even though public speaking terrified her a used-car dealer with only a semblance of honesty

Recent Examples on the Web

There was no semblance of a campaign structure, just a few, distraught, overworked people constantly barking into their phones. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Toothless trade resolution demonstrates Congress’s unwillingness to check Trump," 12 July 2018 Starkweather folded the pants into the semblance of a pillow. Paul Collins,, "What lies in the lab: The gruesome murder at Harvard that transfixed New England," 11 July 2018 Melania Trump, by contrast, has offered only the merest glimpses of her life and the vaguest semblance of a platform. Molly Ball, Time, "Melania Trump Is Redefining One of the World’s Weirdest Jobs," 28 June 2018 Still, the Tamagotchi Mini offers the exciting prospect of watching a garbage LCD screen shift pixels around in the semblance of a near-indistinguishable form with eyes and a mouth. Sarah Jeong, The Verge, "My Tamagotchi is everything that went wrong with our future," 17 June 2018 To maintain semblance of limiting migration, in 1875 Congress passed the Page Act, which limited the migration of Chinese women. Irene Hsu, The New Republic, "The Echoes of Chinese Exclusion," 28 June 2018 Tiffany Haddish saved the show — and wore her famous white dress again Thank goodness for Haddish, who gave the show any semblance of a pulse. Maeve Mcdermott, USA TODAY, "MTV Movie and TV Awards: The 5 best moments you missed," 18 June 2018 But a strong offensive showing from Tatum gives the Celtics at least some semblance of a counter against James’s shooting theatrics. Rohan Nadkarni,, "Eastern Conference Finals Preview: Can LeBron Continue His Magical Run?," 11 May 2018 Combating lower back stiffness, Correa took ground balls on Monday, his first semblance of baseball activity since being placed on the disabled list June 29. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros' Carlos Correa will miss series against Oakland," 10 July 2018

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

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First Known Use of semblance

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

History and Etymology for semblance

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from sembler to be like, seem — more at resemble

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Statistics for semblance

Last Updated

5 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for semblance

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

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More Definitions for semblance



English Language Learners Definition of semblance

: the state of being somewhat like something but not truly or fully the same thing


sem·blance | \ ˈsem-bləns \

Kids Definition of semblance

: outward appearance Everyone was rushing around with tools and wood and there was the semblance of a house emerging … —Louise Fitzhugh, Harriet the Spy

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Comments on semblance

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to make amends

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