1590s, "an image, that which is formed in likeness of an object," from Latin simulacrum "likeness, image, form, representation, portrait," a dissimilation of *simulaclom, from simulare "to make like, imitate, copy, represent," from the stem of similis "like, resembling, of the same kind" (see similar).
It is attested by 1805 as "something having the mere appearance of another thing," hence "a specious imitation." The word was borrowed earlier as semulacre (late 14c.), via Old French simulacre. Related: Simulacral.
updated on November 03, 2022