[ trans-pair-uhn-see, -par- ]
/ trænsˈpɛər ən si, -ˈpær- /

noun, plural trans·par·en·cies.

Also trans·par·ence. the quality or state of being transparent.
something transparent, especially a picture, design, or the like on glass or some translucent substance, made visible by light shining through from behind.
  1. the proportion of the light that is passed through the emulsion on an area of a photographic image.
  2. a photographic print on a clear base for viewing by transmitted light.



Even if you can't be a professional chef, you can at least talk like one with this vocabulary quiz.
Question 1 of 9
You may have read the word "simmer" in a recipe or two, but what does it really mean?

Origin of transparency

From the Medieval Latin word trānspārentia, dating back to 1585–95. See transparent, -ency

OTHER WORDS FROM transparency

non·trans·par·ence, nounnon·trans·par·en·cy, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020


What does transparency mean?

Transparency is the quality or state of being transparent. It is perhaps most commonly used in a figurative way to refer to a state in which things are free from any attempt to hide something, as in The administration has been praised for its transparency with the press. 

It can also be used to mean a state in which something is literally transparent—able to be seen through or allowing light to pass through clearly. A clear glass window is transparent in this way. However, something doesn’t need to be completely clear to be considered transparent. A fine mesh that is able to be seen through could be described as transparent.

The word translucence (the noun form of the adjective translucent) is sometimes used as a synonym for transparency. In technical contexts, though, describing something as translucent means that it allows light to pass through but diffuses it so that whatever is on the other side cannot be fully seen. For example, a frosted glass window could be said to be translucent but not transparent (you can see what’s on the other side, but not clearly). Still, in everyday conversation, these literal senses of the words are typically used to mean the same thing.

Another figurative sense of transparency refers to the state of being obvious or easy to understand or figure out, as in I always appreciate transparency in instructions—the simpler the better.

Transparency can also refer to something that is transparent. More specifically, it’s used to refer to a clear sheet (also called a slide) featuring an image that can be projected through the use of a slide projector.

Example: Consumer advocates have been pushing the company to increase transparency around its supply chain.

Where does transparency come from?

The first records of the word transparency come from around 1600. It ultimately comes from the Medieval Latin verb transpārēre, meaning “to show through,” from trans-, meaning “through,” and the Latin verb pārēre, meaning “to appear” or “to be visible” (pārēre is also the root of the words appear and apparent).

Transparency in a process involves it being completely visible and open to scrutiny, so that it’s clear that nothing is being hidden. This sense of the word is especially used in the context of politicians, government agencies, and businesses and calls for them to be more transparent or increase their transparency. The opposite of this is being secretive.

The opposite of the literal sense of transparency is opacity, which is the state of being opaque—not able to be seen through at all or not allowing any light to pass through.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to transparency?

  • transparence (less common variant)
  • transparent (adjective)

What are some synonyms for transparency?

What are some words that share a root or word element with transparency

What are some words that often get used in discussing transparency?

What are some words transparency may be commonly confused with?

How is transparency used in real life?

Transparency is most commonly used in a figurative sense in the context of government agencies and companies, which people often call on to increase transparency in dealings with citizens and customers.



Try using transparency!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of transparency?

A. clearness
B. candidness
C. opacity
D. openness

Example sentences from the Web for transparency

British Dictionary definitions for transparency

/ (trænsˈpærənsɪ, -ˈpɛər-) /

noun plural -cies

Also called: transparence the state of being transparent
Also called: slide a positive photograph on a transparent base, usually mounted in a frame or between glass plates. It can be viewed by means of a slide projector
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