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

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 After mustering up some semblance of a personal anecdote, Lauren is gifted a rose anyway for simply managing to stay awake. Justin Kirkland, USA TODAY, "'The Bachelor' recap: Kendall takes on Krystal, three women leave," 5 Feb. 2018 Critics say the Warriors have destroyed any semblance of NBA competitive balance, like a bear entering the Nathan’s hot-dog-eating contest. Scott Ostler,, "With ‘Boogie,’ Warriors shoot into ‘death zone’," 9 July 2018 There were sparks and smoke, billowing up and out of Daytona International Speedway, taking with them any semblance of normalcy from an always irregular race. Brendan Marks, charlotteobserver, "NASCAR: Controversial Daytona race ends with Erik Jones' first-ever win in double OT," 7 July 2018 There were no offensive sets or any semblance of organization. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Ugly sequence sums up what is wrong with LaVar Ball's JBA league," 26 June 2018 His patience would be sorely tested, however, as Rossi struggled to find any semblance of form., "World Cup Countdown: 9 Days to Go - What if Paolo Rossi Had Still Been Banned?," 5 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

14 Nov 2018

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

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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).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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