Translucent vs. transparent

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Things that are transparent are so clear you can see through them as if there’s nothing there. Things that are translucent allow light through but with significant diffusion or distortion.

So if you hold something transparent—say, a square of flat, clear glass—in front of these words, you’ll be able to read them. If you hold up something translucent—say, a tinted or decorated glass with water in it—you’ll see the glow of your screen but probably won’t be able to read the words.


Electricity running through opaque liquid crystals realigns their molecular structure and makes them transparent. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Using the slightest of materials — translucent yellow tracing paper — Scanga has built a hive-like vault that embraces viewers and transforms the gallery’s light and atmosphere. [St. Louis Beacon]

You can see the indoor activity through the transparent façade. [Boston Globe]

The garlicky gulf shrimp in the gamberetti were cooked perfectly to a translucent sheen, and accented with smoked paprika, chilies and croutons. [New York Times]

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