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Difference Between ‘Appearance’ And ‘Reality’

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A lot of you might have heard the words ‘appearance’ and ‘reality being used in a sentence simultaneously. It might have occurred to you what they actually mean, in what context are they used, and how these words differ from each other.

So in this article, we will try to focus on the individual meaning of each of the words and then look at the reasons due to which they differ from each other.

So, what is the difference between appearance and reality? To explain it in brief, ’appearance’ is what is on the outside, what we tend to see or tend to perceive. Whereas, ’reality’ is the state that actually exists. 

So without much ado, let’s have a look at the words in detail!

What Does The Word Appearance Mean?

‘Appearance’ is what we can see on the outer side. It is basically the exterior and not what lies on the inside. It is the way someone or something looks or appears to be.

A woman thinking about the appearance of her future home
A woman thinking about the appearance of her future home

 Apart from the general meaning, appearance also means when someone acts or performing in shows or in public. For example:

‘After the floods, the museum tried to restore the painting to its original appearance.’

‘He is well known for his guest appearance as Doctor Josh in the show.’

What Does The Word Reality Mean?

‘Reality ’ is the state that actually exists, whether or not it is apparent. Reality is the antonym for illusion or state of intuition or fantasy.

Houses in a real neighbourhood in USA
Houses in a real neighbourhood in USA

Everyone is aware of the five senses that humans have. These are touch, smell, hear and taste, and sight. Although as humans we are inclined to rely upon the five senses, the reality is beyond that.

Many times, we fail to accept or recognize the real thing that is happening and believe what our senses tend to understand. This might be more clear if we have a look at an example.

Horizon is a natural phenomenon. However, when we look at it, it appears that the sky and the earth are touching each other.

Another example could be the size of the sun or the size of the stars. In reality, they are huge but they appear really small to us.

One more example that will help us understand the difference could be how a painted sponge can look like a rock from a distance until you touch it to know what actually it is.

Difference Between Appearance And Reality

Now that we have obtained the necessary understanding of the word,’ Appearance’ and ‘Reality, let’s have a look at the reasons why they differ from each other.

Appearance VS Reality In Literature

Appearance and Reality have been a central theme of a lot of plays, dramas, books, and even movies. Shakespeare, who is one of the renowned writers has also written plays on the same theme. Othello, Macbeth, and Hamlet all have the same underlying idea of how deceptive appearance can be and how easily people fall for it.

false appearance
False appearance

The topic is still relevant in today’s time as a lot of movies are based on novels that have focused on appearance and how people fall for it quite instantly. Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen is one such novel that has been adapted many times by directors.

The teachings that we get from each of them are the same that you shouldn’t judge too quickly and form a rational and informed opinion as appearance misrepresents reality a lot of times.

Appearance VS Reality In Philosophy

Appearance and reality have always been some of the most important points in philosophy.

Many times, it so happens that we assume things in general whereas they are not what they seem to appear as there are a lot of contradictions if you look closely at it.

In daily life, we tend to accept things on the basis of their appearance and on our personal experiences as this is our first instinct. However, we need to look further into the matter to make sure that the opinion that we have formed is what it is in reality.

A lot of times you use your senses to form an opinion, it is not necessary that what you feel is the reality.

For instance, if you move your hand on a coarse object, you might form an opinion about it being rough but in reality, it might so happen that the direction in which you moved your hand was not correct and thus invalidating your opinion.

Therefore, in philosophy, a lot of quotes and proverbs are based on the difference that you need to see between reality and appearance. One of the well-known proverbs for the same is, “Do not judge a book by its cover”.

Comparison Chart: Appearance Vs Reality

Point Of DifferenceAppearanceReality
NatureAppearance can be deceptive or misleading sometimes.Reality is genuine even if appears to be false at first.
How Apparent is it?It  appears on the face of the problem or the situationReality can be apparent or might even be hidden under a lot of misleading information.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What amount of role does perspective plays in ‘appearance’ and ‘reality’?

Appearance is the way we see things from our perspective or how things are projected to us. Hence,prespective plays a major role in appearance.

Reality is the state of things that exist whether or not we see them or not. Hence it has no relation whatsoever with perspective.

Do your five senses play a role in reaching a conclusion on the basis of ‘Appearance’ and ‘Reality’?

When you are forming an opinion on the basis of appearance it means that you are making use of some or all the five senses.

Whereas, in the case of reality, there is no use of senses. You might not be able to understand reality even after making use of your senses.


In this article, we have made sure that you become aware of the differences that exist between the words,’ Appearance’ and ‘Reality’.

The major difference between both words is that appearance is what it seems to be and it doesn’t mean that it is always true whereas reality is what lies at the core of the situation.

Hence, you shouldn’t be too quick in forming an opinion and try to look at the topic in-depth and analyze all the aspects properly.

Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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