Definition of diaphanous in English:


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  • (especially of fabric) light, delicate, and translucent.

    ‘a diaphanous dress of pale gold’
    • ‘In lingerie, this is expressed by delicate shapes in diaphanous fabrics which flutter around the body.’
    • ‘The house, too, is filled with colour and texture: gold, glitter, satin, lace, feathers, and yards of diaphanous fabric.’
    • ‘He would ‘flit around the backyard trailing a long piece of diaphanous fabric, in the style of the ballets Russes’.’
    • ‘Like Robert Irwin, he uses diaphanous fields to capture light, and hovering surfaces to question the fixity of architectural space.’
    • ‘The canvas is almost 5 feet tall, and it shows her in a light turquoise satin and chiffon dress with short diaphanous sleeves.’
    • ‘Her taste for wearing loose, diaphanous, white muslin dresses, adopted from Marie Antoinette, gave rise to what became known as the Perdita chemise.’
    • ‘Conversation ebbs and flows, and from time to time, our host's wife floats through in her diaphanous dress and offers us cheese straws.’
    • ‘Even more amazingly, especially in the ravishing performance of Debussy's orchestral seascapes, they bring a chamber music-like transparency to this diaphanous score.’
    • ‘Women dancers were dressed in diaphanous white frocks with little wings at their waist, and were bathed in the mysterious poetic light created by newly developed gas lighting in theatres.’
    • ‘When I arrived back at his house, Amy was already wearing her seventies outfit - a knee-length dress of diaphanous purple and blue flowers.’
    • ‘The gauzy fabric was extremely soft and light, yet somehow not diaphanous.’
    • ‘The interior is largely obscured, however, by an upside-down stair, magically suspended from the first floor and contained by a diaphanous veil of fine steel grating.’
    • ‘Light filters through the diaphanous structure, supplementing cool north light for those exhibits that can be exposed to daylight.’
    • ‘Illuminated only by the fire, her figure shrouded in diaphanous clothes, she drifted in a nimbus of copper light.’
    • ‘Creatures have recognizable parts - but in the sea they can be diaphanous clouds of membrane, without eyes, face, stomach, spine, or brain.’
    • ‘The first glimpse of what a London Olympics would look like reveals an 80,000-seater stadium with diaphanous roof sections resembling giant insect wings.’
    • ‘I attended his lectures on perception in the 1960s, and am touched to discover that he, too, was taken in as a child by the illusion that cinema curtains are diaphanous.’
    • ‘The goddess, clad in a diaphanous robe, overawes the medieval demoiselles who have gathered to admire their reflections in a mountain pool.’
    • ‘At every shop window she checked out her reflection and her several diaphanous layers of bold, floral-printed skirt, top and shawl.’
    • ‘A chorus of fairies wafts above the stage, fluttering their diaphanous wings.’
    sheer, fine, ultra-fine, delicate, light, lightweight, thin, insubstantial, floaty, flimsy, filmy, silken, chiffony, gossamer, gossamery, gossamer-thin, gossamer-like, gauzy, gauze-like, cobwebby, feathery
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/dīˈafənəs/ /daɪˈæfənəs/


Early 17th century from medieval Latin diaphanus, from Greek diaphanēs, from dia ‘through’ + phainein ‘to show’.