A likeness is a portrait, or a head-turning resemblance. George Washington’s likeness appears on the dollar bill. A potato might bear an uncanny likeness to my grandfather.

Likeness has nothing to do with liking someone or something––it’s all about what something looks like. It’s been in use since before the 12th century, when likenesses had to be drawn or painted, rather than snapped with a digital camera. If the only picture you had of your mom was one your brother drew, you would value it more if it was a good likeness, meaning it really looked “like” her.

Definitions of likeness
  1. noun
    similarity in appearance or character or nature between persons or things
    “man created God in his own likeness
    synonyms: alikeness, similitude
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    dissimilitude, unlikeness
    dissimilarity evidenced by an absence of likeness
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    comparability, compare, comparison, equivalence
    qualities that are comparable
    mirror image, reflection, reflexion
    a likeness in which left and right are reversed
    the likeness of a representation to the thing represented
    similarity in appearance or external or superficial details
    spitting image
    a perfect likeness or counterpart
    mutual resemblance
    symmetrical resemblance
    inherent resemblance between persons or things
    type of:
    the quality of being similar
  2. noun
    picture consisting of a graphic image of a person or thing
    synonyms: semblance
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    Identikit, Identikit picture
    a likeness of a person's face constructed from descriptions given to police; uses a set of transparencies of various facial features that can be combined to build up a picture of the person sought
    portrait, portrayal
    any likeness of a person, in any medium
    a portrait showing the body from only the waist up
    a portrait of yourself created by yourself
    type of:
    icon, ikon, image, picture
    a visual representation (of an object or scene or person or abstraction) produced on a surface
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