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
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

And without having the -- the FBI report or some semblance of trying to get corroboration, we are left with the credibility of the two witnesses. Fox News, "Tucker takes on Kavanaugh opponent; Martha MacCallum's takeaways from interview with Kavanaugh," 25 Sep. 2018 Tunisia is the sole country to emerge from the Arab Spring revolts that began in late 2010 with a semblance of stable democracy, but the country has grappled with a stagnant economy and a range of security challenges in recent years. Jared Malsin, WSJ, "Female Suicide Bomber Wounds Nine in Heart of Tunis," 29 Oct. 2018 These men were frequently shuffled between powerful government positions to maintain a semblance of stability, and had unfettered access to cash and profitable contracts. Javid Ahmad, WSJ, "The Mafia That Threatens Afghanistan," 19 Sep. 2018 Neither side was able to gain traction in the first half or maintain any semblance of flow as passes trailed astray and displays of chippiness went appropriately penalized. Owen Pence,, "Revolution, Sounders end in scoreless draw," 8 July 2018 If Andujar can maintain a semblance of his current production while lurking in the lower third of the order, pitchers won’t get much of a break after facing one of the most fearsome first five in baseball. Stephanie Apstein,, "Nine Innings: How the Blue Jays Are Riding Out Their Hot Start, Bartolo's Sneaky Speed and Javier Baez's Transformation," 23 Apr. 2018 Elsewhere, Bella Hadid eschewed any semblance of coverage for a full dose of vitamin D, a bubblegum bikini teaming with baby braids and sun-kissed skin to propel the possibility of eternal summer. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "The 10 Best Instagrams of the Week: Beyoncé Turns Gray Skies Into a Standout Lip Moment (and More!)," 28 Oct. 2018 Some semblance of plot was hinted at, as a remote voice commanded Walker to call a rocket to land on the earth for the sake of an unclear mission. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Bethesda at E3: Elder Scrolls VI, Starfield confirmed for “next generation”," 11 June 2018 As long as there’s some semblance of harmony, this could be a measure of success. Theophilos Argitis,, "A Guide to the G-7 Communique, How It's Done and Why It Matters," 8 June 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

26 Dec 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

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


involving abstract or general statements

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