Transparent, translucent and opaque

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Transparent, translucent and opaque are adjectives that describe the amount of light that is able to pass through an object. Transparent, translucent and opaque may be used in the literal sense or figurative sense.

Transparent is an adjective that describes material that allows objects behind it to be seen clearly. Glass windows are transparent. Transparent may also mean easy to spot or detect.  Related words are transparently, transparency and transparentness.

Translucent is an adjective that describes material through which one may see an object, but may not be able to discern the details. Translucent may also be described as semitransparent. Sautéed onions are translucent. Related words are translucence, translucency and translucently.

Opaque is an adjective that describes material that one may not see through, it is not transparent. A brick is opaque. Related words are opaquely and opaqueness.


Community and religious leaders are demanding a transparent investigation into the death of Sandra Bland, the Illinois woman who was found dead in her Texas jail cell. (The Dallas Sun-Times)

And they call for 60 percent transparent glass on building facades fronting the roadways. (The Kansas City Star)

The strain of dulse they came up with, which looks like translucent red lettuce, is a great source of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, not to mention protein. (The Daily Astorian)

They will, of course, provide life’s necessities and amenities on-site: micro kitchens, rooftop gardens, translucent roofs, bike paths, restaurants. (The Washington Post)

To date, strategy and performance amongthe executive branch of government has been somewhat opaque. (The Brisbane Times)

But in the largelyopaque process of choosing the secretary-general, the five permanent members of the Security Council, including the United States, have the real power. (The Miami Herald)

The bright green boat, freshly painted, rode high on the opaque water. (National Geographic)