tran·​spic·​u·​ous | \ tran(t)s-ˈpi-kyə-wəs How to pronounce transpicuous (audio) \

Definition of transpicuous

: clearly seen through or understood

Did You Know?

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," a verb 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.")

First Known Use of transpicuous

1638, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for transpicuous

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

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The first known use of transpicuous was in 1638

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Cite this Entry

“Transpicuous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Oct. 2020.

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