Even after look on Cambridge Dictionary I didn't get the difference between the words "likeness" and "resemblance".

Could someone help me with this?


  • "Likeness" implies a somewhat more complete duplication of features than "resemblance", but there are no hard-and-fast criteria
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 18, 2020 at 3:47
  • To be more specific, "likeness" would be more likely to be applied to a picture or drawing of the subject, even if the drawing were fairly abstract. "Resemblance" would be more likely to be used with reference to a photo of your grandmother that resembled the Mona Lisa.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 18, 2020 at 3:56
  • From the New York Times: By John F. Burns March 9, 2009 LONDON Nearly 400 years after his death, William Shakespeare appeared in a new and more handsome guise on Monday, thanks to a recently discovered portrait that a group of Shakespeare scholars and art historians said was the only known likeness to have been painted in his lifetime.
    – Xanne
    Apr 18, 2020 at 8:30
  • You can use “likeness” as above, but not resemblance. It would be more common to say that a boy resembles his father. You can also liken (compare) a person to something metaphorically, e.g., She likened him to a ferret.”
    – Xanne
    Apr 18, 2020 at 8:36

1 Answer 1


They mean the same thing but are used slightly differently. English famously has many synonyms due to its history (which you can find on wikipedia). However, some synonyms are used in specific contexts, depending on where the speaker is from, the register they are expressing themselves, the sentence it appears in (collocation, e.g. a striking resemblance) etc.

One way of gauging usage better if you do not live in an English-speaking country is (in general) to read or (specifically) to look at the examples in an online dictionary (I use mainly the Cambridge English Dictionary because it has definition, mainstream pronunciation for both the US and the UK, examples and synonyms). Then you can see the words in context.

This page from the Mirriam-Webster has a "Choose the Right Synonym for likeness" section. If you choose the wrong one, people will still understand what you mean, but it will not sound "natural". https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/likeness

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