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See also: Seem


Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English semen (to seem, befit, be becoming), from Old Norse sœma (to conform to, beseem, befit), from Proto-Germanic *sōmijaną (to unite, fit), from Proto-Indo-European *sem- (one; whole). Cognate with Scots seme (to be fitting; beseem), Danish sømme (to beseem), Old Swedish søma, Faroese søma (to be proper). Related also to Old Norse sómi (honour) ( > archaic Danish somme (decent comportment)), Old Norse sœmr (fitting, seemly), Old English sēman (to reconcile, bring an agreement), Old English sōm (agreement).



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.   It must have seemed to her she was safe.   How did she seem to you?   He seems not to be at home.   It seems like rain.
    • 1460-1500, The Towneley Playsː
      He is so fair, without lease, he seems full well to sit on this.
    • 1813 (14thc.), 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, R[ichard] J[efferies], chapter 1, in The Amateur Poacher, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., [], OCLC 752825175:
      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. And why else was he put away up there out of sight?—and so magnificent a brush as he had too. [].
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 2, in 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, in 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)”, in AV Club:
      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.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene:
      And all within were pathes and alleies wide,
      With footing worne, and leading inward farre:
      Faire harbour that them seemes; so in they entred arre.

Usage notes[edit]

Derived terms[edit]



Middle Dutch[edit]


From Old Dutch sēm, from Proto-Germanic *saimaz.


sêem m

  1. honey


This noun needs an inflection-table template.


  • Dutch: zeem
  • West Flemish: zêem

Further reading[edit]