Definition of "Appearance"

Valerie Lewis real estate agent
Valerie Lewis, Real Estate Agent Coldwell Banker Sunstar Realty

The appearance definition isn’t as one might expect. The term itself is used in different ways, but they all are connected with perception or how something or someone is seen or perceived by another party. While appearance is also used to state the physical location, arrival, or presence of someone, for example, someone making an appearance by showing up in a particular place, the word is most often used from a philosophical perspective.

What is the Definition of Appearance?

The most well-grounded definition of appearance is the one that limits the term appearance into the physical. The act or fact of appearing is used to describe someone’s physical appearance in front of the eye and the mind of the public. This same meaning is often used as a term in legal practices for someone coming into a court proceeding.

However, going into the less grounded meanings and uses of the word, we get into the philosophical explanation. The term appearance, in philosophy, regards something or someone that seems to be based on the perception of a thing and not its objective reality. 

Through philosophy, the term appearance is used in contradiction with reality. From the cosmologies that governed Asia Minor to Plato, Kant, and Indian philosophy, there was a distinguishable difference between appearance and reality, the first not being a synonym of the other but, in a way, its opposite. The reason for that is that appearance is based on our perception of the truth, while the reality is based on facts and logic. Because of that, today’s usage of the term appearance is split. On the one hand, we have the physical appearance as presence; on the other, we have the manner, condition, state of appearance based on perception.

Some synonyms of the word appearance are air, aspect, arrival, coming, figure, look, manner, mien, presence, and pretense.

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