Definition of seem in English:


Line breaks: seem
Pronunciation: /siːm


[no object]
  • 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
    More example sentences
    • Nobody else seems very interested, but I think it looks great!
    • Nobody else seems to notice, except perhaps Barry, who simply wants to be left alone.
    • Therefore, it seems somehow a bit excessive to single him out for this sort of treatment.
    appear, appear to be, have the appearance/air 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
  • 1.1 [with infinitive] Used to make a statement less forceful: I seem to remember giving you very precise instructions
  • 1.2 [with clause] (it seems or it would seem) Used to suggest in a cautious or polite way that something is the case: it would seem that he has been fooling us all
    More example sentences
    • Superficially it would seem to have very little to do with an historic attack on Greece over a millennium before!
    • On the basis of this evidence, it would seem that the battle against it is lost!
    • More weight is given to politics than poetry, history or writing, it would seem.
  • 2 (cannot seem to do something) Be unable to do something, despite having tried: he couldn’t seem to remember his lines
    More example sentences
    • Despite pre-tournament warnings the game cannot seem to rid itself of diving and there was a surfeit of the antic throughout the competition.
    • The truly odd thing is that, despite everything, the people who buy the season tickets cannot seem to get the truth into their heads.
    • 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.


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

More definitions of seem

Definition of seem in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day kerf
Pronunciation: kəːf
a slit made by cutting with a saw