Definition of seem in English:



  • 1Give the impression of being something or having a particular quality:

    [with complement] ‘Dawn seemed annoyed’
    ‘it seemed a dismal town’
    [with infinitive] ‘there seems to be plenty to eat’
    [with clause] ‘it seemed that he was determined to oppose her’
    • ‘His master's voice seems unlikely to wake him.’
    • ‘Nobody else seems to notice, except perhaps Barry, who simply wants to be left alone.’
    • ‘Now, he seemed almost on the verge of tears, though Reana could only guess why.’
    • ‘At first sight, the statements issued by the major churches might seem surprising.’
    • ‘While such an argument seems counterintuitive at first, it does have some grounding in evolutionary biology.’
    • ‘She also seems more at ease than ever while delivering her songs.’
    • ‘I realize my condemnation of male diner culture may seem a tad harsh.’
    • ‘I might get discouraged but you guys don't seem to care.’
    • ‘After what seems like an eternity, we finally make it to the entrance.’
    • ‘Although this argument seems plausible, the evidence quoted in its support does not withstand critical examination.’
    • ‘Some things seem destined for repeat discovery until the results are finally taken seriously.’
    • ‘Therefore, it seems somehow a bit excessive to single him out for this sort of treatment.’
    • ‘Having decided to gift it to the nation, she seems somewhat miffed that nobody now seems to want it.’
    • ‘The administration seems somewhat oblivious to the resultant dangers.’
    • ‘I know it seems surprising, but I have never ever had a boyfriend.’
    • ‘He looked at Gabriel, who almost seemed on the verge of tears.’
    • ‘For what seemed like an eternity, they squirmed in their chairs, speechless.’
    • ‘Nobody else seems very interested, but I think it looks great!’
    • ‘Still, calling the other lists whimsical seems a tad unfair.’
    • ‘Burton's flair for image seems always at odds with the story at hand.’
    appear, appear to be, have the air of being, have the appearance of being, give the impression of being, look, look like, look as though one is, look to be, have the look of, show signs of
    come across as, strike someone as, give someone the feeling that one is, sound
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[with infinitive] Used to make a statement less forceful:
      ‘I seem to remember giving you very precise instructions’
    2. 1.2it seems" or "it would seem[with clause] Used to suggest in a cautious or polite way that something is the case:
      ‘it would seem that he has been fooling us all’
      • ‘There is no redemption from punishment as rigid as this, it would seem, only escalation.’
      • ‘It seems that there are people here who are cutting off their noses to spite their faces.’
      • ‘Trying to get anywhere in this day and age, it seems, is just too fraught with danger.’
      • ‘Colleges and universities have come a long way from discussing beauty it would seem.’
      • ‘Yet, it would seem that we are going to have a war whether we want it or not.’
      • ‘Superficially it would seem to have very little to do with an historic attack on Greece over a millennium before!’
      • ‘It seems that the media training he is said to have had over the summer has had a positive effect.’
      • ‘So the sooner these countries are brought under the one umbrella the better, it would seem.’
      • ‘Edward is a perpetual student, it would seem, born in the year of the rooster!’
      • ‘On the basis of this evidence, it would seem that the battle against it is lost!’
      • ‘Alas, unless the place is being refurbished, it would seem that Porter Black's is no more.’
      • ‘In fact, it would seem that investigative journalism in the media is no longer the norm.’
      • ‘On the face of it, it would seem that Canadian society is moving in a positive direction.’
      • ‘In such a situation, it would seem that people do not have a real choice in our democracy.’
      • ‘Well, it seems we are going to hear rather less of this stuff over the coming weeks.’
      • ‘It seems to me that what the citizens want will most definitely not be what we get.’
      • ‘What is it in a country like this where we have everything, it would seem, at our fingertips?’
      • ‘You and your husband need to sit down and talk about your problems - at some length, it would seem.’
      • ‘More weight is given to politics than poetry, history or writing, it would seem.’
      • ‘Roy's save was probably the best action on the pitch, though not, it would seem, of the afternoon.’
  • 2cannot seem to do somethingBe unable to do something, despite having tried:

    ‘he couldn't seem to remember his lines’
    • ‘Try though I might, there are some people whose motivations, whose hardwiring one might say, I cannot seem to figure out.’
    • ‘I have been drinking cranberry juice, but I cannot seem to break the cycle of reinfection.’
    • ‘I cannot seem to achieve anything if I don't have a deadline with a date and a fixed hour, looming over my head.’
    • ‘I cannot seem to connect with my machine right now.’
    • ‘I just couldn't seem to get a hold on my emotions - and this was before I found out about the earthquake.’
    • ‘You go through the same emotions and questions over and over, and talk with your friends about the same topics because you cannot seem to make a decision.’
    • ‘I just cannot seem to get the ‘tick’ and the ‘tock’ in beat - the intervals between them have to be exactly the same.’
    • ‘Despite pre-tournament warnings the game cannot seem to rid itself of diving and there was a surfeit of the antic throughout the competition.’
    • ‘She fidgeted with her necklace, and couldn't seem to decide where to look.’
    • ‘The problem was that they just couldn't seem to apply any sustained pressure.’
    • ‘I would have had more time to socialise but I started playing pool and by some fluke couldn't seem to put a ball wrong.’
    • ‘The schoolgirl said she had been scared and had wanted to cry out but she couldn't seem to find her voice.’
    • ‘This act made me cry instantly and I cannot seem to get over the fact that someone would have taken these things.’
    • ‘Guess which is the one which I cannot seem to face?’
    • ‘The truly odd thing is that, despite everything, the people who buy the season tickets cannot seem to get the truth into their heads.’
    • ‘Some words cannot seem to escape their associated stereotypes.’
    • ‘You spend far more time alone than you would like to and cannot seem to change this’
    • ‘Above all, I find it very hard just to blame the player when his own manager cannot seem to grasp what the fuss might be about.’
    • ‘One of the emotions that some people cannot seem to manage is anger.’
    • ‘I cannot seem to find out any other information about this change.’


Middle English (also in the sense ‘suit, befit, be appropriate’): from Old Norse sœma to honour, from sœmr fitting.