[ trans-pair-uhnt, -par- ]
/ trænsˈpɛər ənt, -ˈpær- /
Save This Word!

Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of transparent

First recorded in1375–1425; late Middle English, from Medieval Latin trānspārent- (stem of trānspārēns) “showing through” (present participle of trānspārēre), equivalent to Latin trāns-trans- + pārent- (stem of pārēns), present participle of pārēre “to appear”; see apparent

synonym study for transparent

1. Transparent , translucent agree in describing material that light rays can pass through. That which is transparent allows objects to be seen clearly through it: Clear water is transparent. That which is translucent allows light to pass through, diffusing it, however, so that objects beyond are not distinctly seen: Ground glass is translucent.

OTHER WORDS FROM transparent


translucent, transparent (see synonym study at the current entry)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does transparent mean?

Transparent is used to describe things that you can see through or things that allow for light to pass through clearly.

A clear glass window is transparent in this way. A very informal synonym is see-through. 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 translucent is sometimes used as a synonym for transparent. 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, the words are typically used to mean the same thing.

Transparent is also commonly used in a few figurative ways. Most commonly, it describes things that are free from any attempt to hide something, as in a transparent process or The administration has been praised for its willingness to be transparent with the press. 

It can also mean obvious or easy to understand or figure out, as in The instructions were very transparent and easy to follow.

Sometimes, transparent is used to describe things that may have been intended to hide something but that are easy to recognize or see through in a figurative sense, as in His excuses are so transparent—everyone knows the real reason he called out of work.  

The noun transparency refers to the quality or state of being transparent.

Example: The stadium only allows transparent bags to be brought in so that they can be easily inspected by security.

Where does transparent come from?

The first records of the word transparent come from around 1400. It 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).

Describing a process as transparent typically means that it’s completely visible and open to scrutiny—nothing is being hidden. This is especially used in the context of politicians, government agencies, and businesses and calls for them to be transparent. The opposite of this is being secretive.

The opposite of the literal sense of transparent is opaque, which describes things that cannot be seen through at all or that do not let any light pass through them. It can also be used as the opposite of some of the figurative senses of transparent: describing something as opaque can mean that it’s hard to understand.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to transparent?

  • transparently (adverb)
  • transparentness (noun)
  • nontransparent (adjective)
  • transparency (noun)

What are some synonyms for transparent?

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

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

What are some words transparent may be commonly confused with?

How is transparent used in real life?

In a literal sense, transparent is used to describe things that are completely see-through, like clean water and glass. In a figurative sense, transparent is often used in the context of government agencies and companies, which people often call to be more transparent in dealings with citizens and customers.


Try using transparent!

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

A. see-through
B. clear
C. opaque
D. limpid

How to use transparent in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for transparent

/ (trænsˈpærənt, -ˈpɛər-) /

permitting the uninterrupted passage of light; cleara window is transparent
easy to see through, understand, or recognize; obvious
(of a substance or object) permitting the free passage of electromagnetic radiationa substance that is transparent to X-rays
candid, open, or frank

Derived forms of transparent

transparently, adverbtransparentness, noun

Word Origin for transparent

C15: from Medieval Latin transpārēre to show through, from Latin trans- + pārēre to appear
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

Scientific definitions for transparent

[ trăns-pârənt ]

Allowing radiation or matter to pass through with little or no resistance or diffusion. Compare opaque translucent. See Note at glass.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.