What is the difference between `semblance’ and `resemblance’?

When you say that two objects or people `resemble’ each other, you are saying that they look a lot like each other. Resemblance between two objects suggests that there is a likeness between them. In this case, the similarity is there to be seen.

*There is a marked resemblance between you and your cousin, Sridhar.

`Semblance’ is a word that is normally used in formal contexts. If you say that there was a semblance of order at the meeting, what you are suggesting is that outwardly, things appeared to be in order. This appearance of everything being under control, however, is false. `Semblance’ is generally used to suggest a contrast between outward appearance and inner reality. When someone puts on a semblance of cheerfulness at a party, he is only pretending to be cheerful. It is only a show; he is faking it.

*After the riots, it took a week for some semblance of order to return.

`Semblance’ can also be used to suggest a likeness between two objects.

*The clouds took on the semblance of a small elephant.

Source: ‘Know Your English’ ( The Hindu) – April 10, 2006

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