Transparent, translucent or opaque

light-in-tent-ctd-20052

flickr ctd20052

Ever wonder when you should use the word transparent, the words translucent or opaque? Sure, you have.

In recent weeks, we have heard a lot about our government having “transparency.” Are our politicians using the proper term? A quick Google search of the term government transparency shows 17,800,000 hits.

Transparent means  to have the property of transmitting light through its substance so the objects situated beyond or behind can be distinctly seen.

It also means so sheer that light passes through it, or easily recognized or detected. (I guess this last part is what the government is referring to)

Translucent means permitting light to pass through but diffusing it. Persons or objects on the opposite side are not clearly visible.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary says translucent means free from disguise or falseness.

Opaque is defined as transparent or translucent. If something is opaque, it doesn’t allow light to pass through.

It would appear we are starting to go around in circles since translucent is used in the definition of opaque. How confusing, even for us non-politicians.

This is not a statement about any government policy. It is just one more attempt to try to look at words in the English language.

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3 responses to “Transparent, translucent or opaque

  1. Woody Woodward

    Here is a good word for our wonderful “transparent” politicians….
    “Osmosis” Diffusion through a differential permeable membrane. The gradual, often unconscious, absorption of knowledge or ideas through continual exposure rather than deliberate learning

  2. Are you sure it’s not: “Not transparent or translucent”?

  3. “Opaque is defined as transparent or translucent.”
    Um, no, it’s not.