tran·​spic·​u·​ous tran(t)s-ˈpi-kyə-wəs How to pronounce transpicuous (audio)
: clearly seen through or understood

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Transpicuous is derived from the Latin word transpicere, meaning "to look through." Transpicere, in turn, is a formation that combines trans-, meaning "through," and specere, meaning "to look" or "to see." If you guessed that transpicuous is related to conspicuous, you're correct. It's also possible to see a number of other specere descendants in English, including aspect, circumspect, expect, inspect, perspective, and suspect. Another descendant of specere, and a close synonym of transpicuous, is perspicuous, which means "clear and easy to understand," as in "a perspicuous argument." (Per-, like trans-, means "through.") There's also perspicacious, meaning "keen and observant." (You might say that perspicuous and transpicuous mean "able to be seen through," whereas perspicacious means "able to see through.")

Word History


New Latin transpicuus, from Latin transpicere to look through, from trans- + specere to look, see — more at spy

First Known Use

1638, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of transpicuous was in 1638


Dictionary Entries Near transpicuous

Cite this Entry

“Transpicuous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jul. 2024.

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