Definition of opaque in US English:



  • 1Not able to be seen through; not transparent.

    ‘the windows were opaque with steam’
    • ‘Beyond was a flurry of activity as men and women in white lab coats bustled around a dozen or so large, cylindrical vats containing a nearly opaque, viscous liquid.’
    • ‘The surfaces of these complex, radically vertiginous paintings are built up with transparent and opaque acrylics.’
    • ‘Its refinement however, and the shifting play of the opaque and transparent, suggests descent from the traditional Japanese house.’
    • ‘The crystals range from nearly opaque through translucent to transparent.’
    • ‘Most are pinkish purple and range from transparent to almost opaque, the latter often being extensively cracked.’
    • ‘Redwood gazebos will look and perform best with the application of a transparent, semi-transparent or opaque finish.’
    • ‘Out of them came only egg yolk and egg white, firm and opaque or runny and transparent to be sure, but never any sort of baby bird.’
    • ‘Occasionally, they hold their hands out to the passing crowd asking for handouts, taking turns to sip an opaque liquid from a plastic container.’
    • ‘Males immediately began displaying to one another through the transparent partition after the opaque partition was removed.’
    • ‘As far as the gem folks are concerned, it is not much of an exaggeration to say that they see gems as either transparent or opaque.’
    • ‘Drawings described simply as ‘watercolours’ are often found to be executed in a combination of both transparent and opaque pigments.’
    • ‘By now you will have a wooden container full of an insipid yellowish opaque liquid and a sieve full of mash.’
    • ‘Alternatively, you might replace transparent glass with the opaque frosted or acid-etched variety.’
    • ‘Acrylic also comes in various transparent or opaque colours.’
    • ‘Brookite is a transparent to opaque mineral that occurs in various shades of red- and yellow-brown through dark brown to black.’
    • ‘The work is viewed on a screen behind which drawings, puppets, and backdrops are illuminated using opaque and transparent projections.’
    • ‘Most use a combination of transparent and opaque watercolors, and their original works are about twice the size of the printed plates.’
    • ‘Although most of the beryl is fractured and opaque, a few transparent crystals have been found.’
    • ‘The mediums vary from high gloss to matte, transparent to opaque, bold to nuanced.’
    • ‘These consist of arrays of pixels, each made of a material that varies from being transparent to opaque depending on the size of the electrical voltage you apply to it.’
    non-transparent, cloudy, filmy, blurred, smeared, hazy, misty, dirty, dingy, muddy, muddied, grimy, smeary
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    1. 1.1 (especially of language) hard or impossible to understand; unfathomable.
      ‘technical jargon that was opaque to her’
      • ‘I find conversation about football utterly opaque and uninteresting.’
      • ‘The logical chain leading from recovery from illness to an understanding of the animals' language is similarly opaque.’
      • ‘The Federal Reserve chairman is famous for his opaque remarks and abstruse topics.’
      • ‘This is the opaque, convoluted language quoted in the decision handed down four days ago by the current US Supreme Court.’
      • ‘But his tendency towards dull speeches, opaque language and meandering responses to questions almost undid him.’
      • ‘Shakespeare was an experimental writer whose business was ‘to present character in all its inaccessibility, in language at least as opaque as necessary’.’
      • ‘The existing products emphasize process and procedure and tend to be so opaque to the user that they are not trusted for speculative work.’
      • ‘The explanations are about as opaque to the uninitiated as the phrases themselves.’
      • ‘This was part of an effort to increase the transparency of hedge funds, which are notoriously opaque to investors and regulators.’
      • ‘Topics that had once appeared impossibly opaque to even the most determined of scholars now almost promiscuously invite inquiry and controversy.’
      • ‘The process isn't necessarily racist or sexist, it's just totally opaque to anyone who isn't a student politics geek.’
      • ‘Online voting systems will use technology that is opaque to voters.’
      • ‘Derrida neglected to discuss alternatives except in language so opaque it is impossible to decipher.’
      • ‘But then again, it's exactly with such opaque language that committees like to dig their way out of trouble.’
      • ‘Broadly speaking, its function is to help us express and regulate our emotional lives, which are confusing and sometimes opaque to us.’
      • ‘The bill's language was opaque enough that opponents worried it would impact fishing, too.’
      • ‘He believed that there do exist necessary connections in nature, even though these connections are opaque to human understanding.’
      • ‘Though the differential is striking, its meaning may be somewhat opaque to non-specialists: everybody dies in the end, after all.’
      • ‘I say to the Minister that someone must have thought through what that means, but it is completely opaque to me.’
      • ‘Moreover, by invoking Nahuatl and speaking in tongues, he dramatizes the opaque materiality of language.’
      obscure, unclear, dense, uncertain, indeterminate, mysterious, puzzling, perplexing, baffling, mystifying, confusing, enigmatic, inexplicable, unexplained, concealed, hidden, unfathomable, incomprehensible, impenetrable, vague, ambiguous, delphic, indefinite, indistinct, hazy, foggy, nebulous, equivocal, doubtful, dubious, oblique, elliptical, oracular, cryptic, deep, abstruse, recondite, arcane, esoteric, recherché
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  • 1An opaque thing or substance.

    • ‘And to think that we used to spend the dark winter months hibernating our legs away in a cocoon of black opaques!’
    • ‘A clear liquid that instantly and permanently repairs sheer hosiery, pantyhose, tights, opaques, knee-highs, and socks, it's much more efficient than the old nail-polish fix your mom taught you.’
    • ‘To be honest, it's a relief when summer is over and we can get back into good old black opaques, which cover a multitude of shortcomings.’
    1. 1.1Photography A substance for producing opaque areas on negatives.


Late Middle English opake, from Latin opacus ‘darkened’. The current spelling (rare before the 19th century) has been influenced by the French form.