1. the act or fact of appearing, as to the eye or mind or before the public: the unannounced appearance of dinner guests; the last appearance of Caruso in Aïda; her first appearance at a stockholders’ meeting.
  2. the state, condition, manner, or style in which a person or object appears; outward look or aspect: a table of antique appearance; a man of noble appearance.
  3. outward show or seeming; semblance: to avoid the appearance of coveting an honor.
  4. Law. the coming into court of either party to a suit or action.
  5. appearances, outward impressions, indications, or circumstances: By all appearances, he enjoyed himself.
  6. Philosophy. the sensory, or phenomenal, aspect of existence to an observer.
  7. Archaic. an apparition.
  1. keep up appearances, to maintain a public impression of decorum, prosperity, etc., despite reverses, unfavorable conditions, etc.: They tried to keep up appearances after losing all their money.
  2. make an appearance, to come; arrive: He didn’t make an appearance until after midnight.
  3. put in an appearance, to attend a gathering or meeting, especially for a very short time: The author put in an appearance at the cocktail party on her way to dinner.


  1. the act or an instance of appearing, as to the eye, before the public, etc
  2. the outward or visible aspect of a person or thingher appearance was stunning; it has the appearance of powdered graphite
  3. an outward show; pretencehe gave an appearance of working hard
  4. (often plural) one of the outward signs or indications by which a person or thing is assessedfirst appearances are deceptive
  5. law
    1. the formal attendance in court of a party in an action
    2. formal notice that a party or his legal representative intends to maintain or contest the issueto enter an appearance
  6. philosophy
    1. the outward or phenomenal manifestation of things
    2. the world as revealed by the senses, as opposed to its real natureCompare reality (def. 4)
  7. keep up appearances to maintain the public impression of wellbeing or normality
  8. put in an appearance or make an appearance to come or attend briefly, as out of politeness
  9. to all appearances to the extent that can easily be judged; apparently

late 14c., “visible state or form, figure; mere show,” from Anglo-French apparaunce, Old French aparance “appearance, display, pomp” (13c.), from Latin apparentia, abstract noun from aparentem, past participle of apparere (see appear). Meaning “semblance” is recorded from early 15c.; that of “action of coming into view” is mid-15c. Phrase keep up appearances attested from 1760 (save appearances in same sense is 1711).

see keep up appearances; put in an appearance.

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