seem

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See also: Seem

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English semen "to seem, befit, be becoming" from Old Norse sœma (to conform to, beseem, befit) (> Danish sømme (beseem)) from sœmr (fitting, seemly), from Proto-Germanic *sōmijaną (to unite, fit), akin to Old Norse sōmi (honour) ( > archaic Danish somme (decent comportment)), Old English sēman (to reconcile, bring an agreement), Old English sōm (agreement).

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

seem (third-person singular simple present seems, present participle seeming, simple past and past participle seemed)

  1. (copulative) To appear; to look outwardly; to be perceived as.
    He seems to be ill.   Her eyes seem blue.
    • 1813 (14th C.), Dante Alighieri, The Vision of Hell as translated by The Rev. H. F. Cary.
      He, from his face removing the gross air, / Oft his left hand forth stretch'd, and seem'd alone / By that annoyance wearied.
    • 1879, Richard Jefferies, chapter 1, The Amateur Poacher:
      They burned the old gun that used to stand in the dark corner up in the garret, close to the stuffed fox that always grinned so fiercely. Perhaps the reason why he seemed in such a ghastly rage was that he did not come by his death fairly. Otherwise his pelt would not have been so perfect.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 2, The Mirror and the Lamp[1]:
      That the young Mr. Churchills liked—but they did not like him coming round of an evening and drinking weak whisky-and-water while he held forth on railway debentures and corporation loans. Mr. Barrett, however, by fawning and flattery, seemed to be able to make not only Mrs. Churchill but everyone else do what he desired.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 19, The China Governess[2]:
      Meanwhile Nanny Broome was recovering from her initial panic and seemed anxious to make up for any kudos she might have lost, by exerting her personality to the utmost. She took the policeman's helmet and placed it on a chair, and unfolded his tunic to shake it and fold it up again for him.
    • 2012 August 5, Nathan Rabin, “TV: Review: THE SIMPSONS (CLASSIC): “I Love Lisa” (season 4, episode 15; originally aired 02/11/1993)”:
      So while Ralph generally seems to inhabit a different, more glorious and joyful universe than everyone else here his yearning and heartbreak are eminently relateable. Ralph sometimes appears to be a magically demented sprite who has assumed the form of a boy, but he’s never been more poignantly, nakedly, movingly human than he is here.
  2. (obsolete) To befit; to beseem.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Spenser to this entry?)

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