The verb resemble is typically used to denote similarity in appearance. We can thus replace this verb with "look like."

But does English have analogous single-word verbs for "sound like," "smell like," "taste like," and "feel like?"

EDIT: Yes, the broad definition of resemble (as commenters have wisely pointed out) includes, more generally, "having qualities similar to" or "seeming like," which would include the other senses. Is it truly used for all of them? And my question remains: are there analogous single-word verbs for the other senses?

  • Your definition is inadequate: resemble: have a similar appearance to or qualities in common with (someone or something); look or seem like. [Google Dictionary] Dec 19, 2014 at 19:36
  • Would you agree that it is "typically used to denote similarity in appearance"?
    – Rusty Tuba
    Dec 19, 2014 at 19:37
  • 2
    Merriam Webster defines "resemble" as "to look or be like (someone or something)." So while it is typically used for appearance, it can be used for other senses than sight. It's usually phrased slightly differently; compare "My sister resembles my mother" vs. "Her laughter resembles the sound of a river."
    – Nicole
    Dec 19, 2014 at 19:38
  • Sense verbs come in a number of flavors and colors, each with corresponding grammar. Resemble can refer to any sense, since a semblance is simply a representation. Dec 19, 2014 at 19:45
  • No; 'often used'. Google hits show a preponderence of the 'look like' sense, but check these at BrainyQuote. Dec 19, 2014 at 19:47

3 Answers 3


Actually, you can say that such and such sound resembles something, for example:

"It resembles a train whistle, and with some imagination, the background ambient water sounds resemble a train moving down a track." news.discovery.com

The same is also true for smell like.

  • Yes, you could say, eg. "The odor resembles that of a flower garden (after it's been fertilized)".
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 19, 2014 at 23:20

Smells, sounds, tastes, and textures/"feels" can imitate others.

Outside of copyright or patent infringement cases you probably wouldn’t hear about a pair of sounds/smells/tastes/textures “imitating each other,” but one of them could certainly be described as imitating the other. Some examples:

Propane leaks are easy to detect due to the strong pungent smell that imitates the scent of rotten eggs.

An onomatopoeia ... is a word that phonetically imitates, resembles or suggests the source of the sound that it describes. (note use of "resembles" next to "imitates")

There are a lot of brands out there that claim their products imitate the taste of burnt tobacco almost to perfection.

A kind of visual texture that imitates real texture by using a two- dimensional pattern to create the illusion of a three-dimensional surface. (visual texture = appearance?)

… meat alternatives are products made ... into a texturized product that has a texture that imitates the chewy texture of meat.

The surface imitates the feel of real ice and allows players another alternative when ice is unavailable.


Sounds like = mimics or parrots

  • That's not really the same thing. You can mimic or parrot something without sounding very much like it at all if you're not a very good mimic/parrot. And in the example given in one of the comments, both verbs would be decidedly odd: “Her laughter mimics/parrots a river”? Surely not. Mimicking or parroting is a description of the act of trying to sound (or look) like something else, rather than the state of actually sounding like something else. Dec 20, 2014 at 0:39

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