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[uh-peer-uh ns] /əˈpɪər əns/
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.
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.
outward show or seeming; semblance:
to avoid the appearance of coveting an honor.
Law. the coming into court of either party to a suit or action.
appearances, outward impressions, indications, or circumstances:
By all appearances, he enjoyed himself.
Philosophy. the sensory, or phenomenal, aspect of existence to an observer.
Archaic. an apparition.
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.
make an appearance, to come; arrive:
He didn't make an appearance until after midnight.
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.
Origin of appearance
1350-1400; appear + -ance; replacing Middle English aparance < Anglo-French, Old French < Late Latin appārentia, neuter plural of Latin appārēns apparent
Related forms
preappearance, noun
reappearance, noun
subappearance, noun
1. arrival, coming, advent. 2. demeanor, presence. Appearance, aspect, guise refer to the way in which something outwardly presents itself to view. Appearance refers to the outward look: the shabby appearance of his car. Aspect refers to the appearance at some particular time or in special circumstances; it often has emotional implications, either ascribed to the object itself or felt by the beholder: In the dusk the forest had a terrifying aspect. Guise suggests a misleading appearance, assumed for an occasion or a purpose: under the guise of friendship. 3. face, pretense. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for keep up appearances
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "It is no use to keep up appearances longer," said the Mask, and he dropped out and walked off on his nose.

  • I know what an awful struggle it has been to keep up appearances.

  • Topman was already drawing heavily on the income of the firm to keep up appearances, and the future must not be overlooked.

    The Von Toodleburgs F. Colburn Adams
  • In short Radisson was resolved at all costs to keep up appearances.

    The Great Company Beckles Willson
  • You can't keep down expenses when you've got to keep up appearances—that is, the appearance of being something that you ain't.

    Old Gorgon Graham George Horace Lorimer
  • He must go from precipice to precipice, to keep up appearances.

  • Unhappily, the intervention of the King of England was not likely to help to keep up appearances.

    The Thirty Years' War Samuel Rawson Gardiner
  • But this, perhaps, was only to keep up appearances, no more.

    Wanderers Knut Hamsun
British Dictionary definitions for keep up appearances


the act or an instance of appearing, as to the eye, before the public, etc
the outward or visible aspect of a person or thing: her appearance was stunning, it has the appearance of powdered graphite
an outward show; pretence: he gave an appearance of working hard
(often pl) one of the outward signs or indications by which a person or thing is assessed: first appearances are deceptive
  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 issue: to enter an appearance
  1. the outward or phenomenal manifestation of things
  2. the world as revealed by the senses, as opposed to its real nature Compare reality (sense 4)
keep up appearances, to maintain the public impression of wellbeing or normality
put in an appearance, make an appearance, to come or attend briefly, as out of politeness
to all appearances, to the extent that can easily be judged; apparently
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for keep up appearances



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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with keep up appearances
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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