Definition of diaphanous in English:



  • (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.’
    • ‘Conversation ebbs and flows, and from time to time, our host's wife floats through in her diaphanous dress and offers us cheese straws.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The canvas is almost 5 feet tall, and it shows her in a light turquoise satin and chiffon dress with short diaphanous sleeves.’
    • ‘Like Robert Irwin, he uses diaphanous fields to capture light, and hovering surfaces to question the fixity of architectural space.’
    • ‘The gauzy fabric was extremely soft and light, yet somehow not diaphanous.’
    • ‘Light filters through the diaphanous structure, supplementing cool north light for those exhibits that can be exposed to daylight.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The house, too, is filled with colour and texture: gold, glitter, satin, lace, feathers, and yards of diaphanous fabric.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘When I arrived back at his house, Amy was already wearing her seventies outfit - a knee-length dress of diaphanous purple and blue flowers.’
    • ‘He would ‘flit around the backyard trailing a long piece of diaphanous fabric, in the style of the ballets Russes’.’
    • ‘Even more amazingly, especially in the ravishing performance of Debussy's orchestral seascapes, they bring a chamber music-like transparency to this diaphanous score.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Her taste for wearing loose, diaphanous, white muslin dresses, adopted from Marie Antoinette, gave rise to what became known as the Perdita chemise.’
    • ‘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.’
    sheer, fine, ultra-fine, delicate, light, lightweight, thin, insubstantial, floaty, flimsy, filmy, silken, chiffony, gossamer, gossamery, gossamer-thin, gossamer-like, gauzy, gauzelike, cobwebby, feathery
    View synonyms


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