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[dahy-af-uh-nuh s] /daɪˈæf ə nəs/
very sheer and light; almost completely transparent or translucent.
delicately hazy.
Origin of diaphanous
1605-15; < Medieval Latin diaphanus < Greek diaphan(ḗs) transparent, equivalent to diaphan-, stem of diaphaínein to show through (see dia-, -phane) + -ēs adj. suffix) + -ous
Related forms
diaphanously, adverb
diaphanousness, noun
nondiaphanous, adjective
nondiaphanously, adverb
nondiaphanousness, noun
semidiaphanous, adjective
semidiaphanously, adverb
semidiaphanousness, noun
undiaphanous, adjective
undiaphanously, adverb
undiaphanousness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for diaphanous
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The branches of the high elms stood out clearly in the diaphanous atmosphere, but the shadows cast upon the road became darker.

    The Fourth Estate, vol. 2 Armando Palacio Valds
  • Polly glanced at her diaphanous pajamas and nodded cheerfully.

    Across the Mesa Jarvis Hall
  • At length, a faint quivering of moving blood was seen in the diaphanous veins of the lungs.

  • Coridon must be visionary and diaphanous, or he is no Coridon for me.

    Olla Podrida Frederick Marryat (AKA Captain Marryat)
  • Furthermore, by the use of diaphanous hangings, form will be minimized and the evanescent effects surely can be charming.

    Artificial Light M. Luckiesh
  • She was clad only in the diaphanous robes of her calling, and she was stacked.

    Pagan Passions Gordon Randall Garrett
  • Her skirt was ruffled to her slender waist with tiniest frills of the diaphanous muslin.

    Jerome, A Poor Man Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
  • The kind of bench which Alma-Tadema usually fills with diaphanous maidens.

    The Lure of the Mask Harold MacGrath
British Dictionary definitions for diaphanous


(usually of fabrics such as silk) fine and translucent
Derived Forms
diaphanously, adverb
diaphanousness, diaphaneity (ˌdaɪəfəˈniːɪtɪ) noun
Word Origin
C17: from Medieval Latin diaphanus, from Greek diaphanēs transparent, from diaphainein to show through, from dia- + phainein to show
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for diaphanous

1610s, from Medieval Latin diaphanus, from Greek diaphanes "transparent," from dia- "through" (see dia-) + phainesthai, middle voice form (subject acting on itself) of phainein "to show" (see phantasm).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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