Lifelike things look real, but they're not. A lifelike wax figure might look just like Queen Elizabeth, but it's actually a realistic statue.

An artist whose style is described as "realism" probably paints very lifelike scenes, producing paintings that look a lot like photographs. A child's doll might be disturbingly lifelike, made to look like a real live baby. As with many words, this one started life in the seventeenth century with a completely different meaning, "likely to live." The current definition came along about a hundred years later.

Definitions of lifelike
  1. adjective
    evoking lifelike images within the mind
    “a lifelike portrait”
    synonyms: graphic, pictorial, vivid
    aware or expressing awareness of things as they really are
  2. adjective
    free from artificiality
    “a lifelike pose”
    synonyms: natural
    free of artificiality; sincere and genuine
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