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Homophones: Seem vs. Seam

Homophones – words that are pronounced the same with different spellings and definitions. Such words can be fun, but they can also be a source of a bit of confusion.

Seem and seam are two homophones that can perplex writers. If you refer to a joint between two parts of fabric, would you spell the word seem or seam? How about if you relate a way in which something gives an impression?

Don’t know the answers to these questions? You’re not alone. Keep reading to discover more about these confusing words.

Seam vs. Seam: What’s the Difference?

This article is a comparison of seem vs. seam. You’ll see both words in lots of sample sentences to see each word in appropriate contexts.

I’ll also show you a mnemonic device that makes selecting one or the other of these words a bit more straightforward.

When Do I Use Seam?

What does seam mean? Seam is a noun meaning the place where two pieces of cloth or other material are joined.

Pieces of clothing have seams, as do other textiles like rugs, blankets, seats of cars, and leather goods.

For instance,

  • Cathy took her new dress to a seamstress to have a seam adjusted.
  • These couch cushions are so full of stuffing that they are literally exploding at the seams.
  • He gives every aspect of his garments — seams, draping, cloth, coloring — a special autonomy, and you see them for themselves as part of a whole.

Seam may also be used more broadly to describe a line where two things meet.

“Seam” comes from an Old English word that’s related to the word we now use as the modern-day sew. This explains why it is so connected to the world of textiles and clothing.

Seam has limited uses as a verb, but it’s more typically used as a noun. In its verb sense, to seam something means to join it with a seam.

When Do I Use Seem?

What does seem mean? Seem is a verb that means to appear or give an impression. In practice, seem is typically used with an infinitive or another word.

For example,

  • “Laura doesn’t seem to relish spending time with James lately,” said Mary over dinner.
  • “I’ll enjoy dating him if Laura doesn’t want to do it anymore,” said Heather, who seemed to be joking.
  • Steve Wynn, king of Vegas, has surrendered his crown. Investors seem to be satisfied.

This verb is a vestige of Middle English. In Middle English, it was an interpretation of Old Norse terms for same and to fitSeem has been used in English since around the 13th century.

A Trick to Remember the Difference Between Seam vs. Seem

These two words are homophones, but they’re never synonymous.

  • Seem is a verb meaning to give an appearance of.
  • seam is a joint between two components of fabric or another material.

Seam vs. Seem: Since seam contains an A, and an apron is a garment that has seams, remember the shared letters between apron and seam to establish the appropriate context for this word.


Is it seem or seam? Although seam and seem are homophones, they are never synonymous.

  • A Seam is a line where two things are joined, mainly two pieces of fabric.
  • Seem is a verb meaning to appear or to give an impression.

These words can be confusing, but their definitions are evident and unique from each other.

Related: Boarder vs. Border – Confusing Homophones.

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By Connie Fisher

Connie Fisher is a freelance writer and editor specializing in business writing and marketing. She holds a bachelor's degree in media and journalism and has contributed to a slew of printed and online media, including Contra Costa Times, Daily American, the The Tri-Town News,, and many more.

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