sem·​blance | \ ˈsem-blən(t)s How to pronounce semblance (audio) \

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 Everyone else carried on with a semblance of normality. Time, "Iceland Has Tested 13% of Its Entire Population for Coronavirus. Here’s What Health Authorities Found," 4 May 2020 Everyone else carried on with a semblance of normality. Egill Bjarnason, The Christian Science Monitor, "How teamwork and early testing helped Iceland tame COVID-19," 4 May 2020 Organizing provides us with some semblance of control while reducing the anxiety associated with having so much of our fate determined by others. Kathryn O'shea-evans, House Beautiful, "Why You're Organizing Everything in Your House Right Now," 17 Apr. 2020 Yet, people with even a semblance of influence in the power structures are often treated very differently. Anisha Sircar, Quartz India, "India’s coronavirus lockdown is bringing out the worst in its police force," 27 Mar. 2020 If nothing else, Texas departed for Ames, Iowa, with some semblance of hope. Nick Moyle,, "Texas’ NCAA hopes just about extinguished after lopsided loss to Iowa State," 15 Feb. 2020 House Republicans cautioned that impeachment should be conducted with at least some semblance of objectivity. Doug Collins, WSJ, "Pelosi Knows Impeachment Is Weak," 20 Jan. 2020 And those splitting hairs to come up with a semblance of failure from Messi will always point to his international career., "Lionel Messi on the Difference Between Losing for Barcelona and Losing for Argentina," 28 Oct. 2019 Combining the images gives a semblance of a third dimension, allowing the researchers to better see how the bacteria use their flagella. Scientific American, "Nanomachines, Jellyfish Hugs and Hurricane Dorian From Space: The Week's Best Science GIFs," 30 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for semblance

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for semblance

Last Updated

29 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Semblance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for semblance


How to pronounce semblance (audio)

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 How to pronounce semblance (audio) \

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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