di·​aph·​a·​nous dī-ˈa-fə-nəs How to pronounce diaphanous (audio)
: characterized by such fineness of texture as to permit seeing through
diaphanous fabrics
a diaphanous curtain
: characterized by extreme delicacy of form : ethereal
painted diaphanous landscapes
: insubstantial, vague
had only a diaphanous hope of success
diaphanously adverb
diaphanousness noun

Did you know?

Can you guess which of the following words come from the same Greek root as diaphanous?

A. epiphany B. fancy C. phenomenon D. sycophant E. emphasis F. phase

The Greek word phainein shows through more clearly in some of our quiz words than others, but it underlies all of them. The groundwork for diaphanous was laid when phainein (meaning "to show") was combined with dia- (meaning "through"). From that pairing came the Greek diaphanēs, parent of the Medieval Latin diaphanus, which is the direct ancestor of our English word.

Examples of diaphanous in a Sentence

the bride wore a diaphanous veil
Recent Examples on the Web Hymowitz, dressed in a diaphanous ballet slipper pink gown by Carolina Herrera, told Vogue that the assignment had been sprung on the willing creatives with a mere six-week deadline (during Fashion Month, no less!), but designers and artists took the brief and ran with it. Freya Drohan, Vogue, 19 Apr. 2024 Her failsafe, office-appropriate neutrals are being replaced with diaphanous Oscar de La Renta shirt dresses and Goyard handbags. Daniel Rodgers, Vogue, 4 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for diaphanous 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'diaphanous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


extension with -ous of Medieval Latin diafanus, diaphanus, borrowed from Greek diaphanḗs "transparent, manifest, conspicuous," adjective derivative from the stem of diaphaínein "to let be seen through," diaphaínesthai "to show through, be seen through," from dia- dia- + phaínein (active voice) "to bring to light, cause to appear," and phaínesthai (middle voice) "to become visible, come to light, appear" — more at fantasy entry 1

First Known Use

1614, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of diaphanous was in 1614


Dictionary Entries Near diaphanous

Cite this Entry

“Diaphanous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diaphanous. Accessed 29 May. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on diaphanous

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!