late 14c., "visible state or form, figure; mere show," from Anglo-French apparaunce, Old French aparance "appearance, display, pomp" (13c.), from Latin apparentia, abstract noun from aparentem, past participle of apparere "come in sight, make an appearance," especially "be evident, be seen in public, show oneself" (see appear).
Meaning "semblance" is recorded from early 15c.; that of "action of coming into view" is mid-15c.; that of "a coming before the public or an audience" is from 1670s. Phrase keeping up appearances attested from 1751 (save appearances in same sense is 1711).