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[dahy-af-uh-nuh s] /daɪˈæf ə nəs/
very sheer and light; almost completely transparent or translucent.
delicately hazy.
Origin of diaphanous
1605-15; < Medieval Latin diaphanus < Greek diaphan(ḗs) transparent (equivalent to diaphan-, stem of diaphaínein to show through (see dia-, -phane) + -ēs adj. suffix) + -ous
Related forms
diaphanously, adverb
diaphanousness, noun
nondiaphanous, adjective
nondiaphanously, adverb
nondiaphanousness, noun
semidiaphanous, adjective
semidiaphanously, adverb
semidiaphanousness, noun
undiaphanous, adjective
undiaphanously, adverb
undiaphanousness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for diaphanous
  • Entering the exhibition, the visitor steps into a cubical area that is partially enclosed by diaphanous material.
  • Miller supplied her stores with rolls of the diaphanous tissue printed with animal motifs, on a whim, she said.
  • Feldshuh wore a pink camisole and a diaphanous flowered skirt.
  • The little light fades the immense and diaphanous shadows.
  • Yet for all the success of the tailored top halves, the diaphanous chiffon tripped up the collection, literally and figuratively.
  • The older man appears in a spotlight onstage wearing a woman's blond wig and a long, diaphanous scarf.
  • There are no gossamer nymphs or diaphanous sprites here.
  • Illuminated at night, it seems almost diaphanous.
  • Versions of the prints then appeared in a fairyland's worth of diaphanous fabrics printed with wood nymphs and flowers.
  • It is as if you are not sure you are hearing these diaphanous tones and cannot quite place their source.
British Dictionary definitions for diaphanous


(usually of fabrics such as silk) fine and translucent
Derived Forms
diaphanously, adverb
diaphanousness, diaphaneity (ˌdaɪəfəˈniːɪtɪ) noun
Word Origin
C17: from Medieval Latin diaphanus, from Greek diaphanēs transparent, from diaphainein to show through, from dia- + phainein to show
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
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Word Origin and History for diaphanous

1610s, from Medieval Latin diaphanus, from Greek diaphanes "transparent," from dia- "through" (see dia-) + phainesthai, middle voice form (subject acting on itself) of phainein "to show" (see phantasm).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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