Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-pær-rênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Obvious, evident, clearly visible or true. 2. Seeming, ostensible, seemingly clear and true, but not necessarily so.

Notes: Today's Good Word's two meanings are apparently contradictory: both true and untrue, or at least the truth is in question. The sentence, "Her gratitude was apparent," may be interpreted in two ways: (1) her gratitude was obvious or, (2) her gratitude seemed obvious. If you hear a sentence like this, you will have to ask for clarification. The adverb is apparently and the noun, apparency—both with the same conflicting senses.

In Play: When used as a predicate adjective, today's word tends to be taken in the first sense above: "Her competence was apparent to all who have worked with her." When used attributively (before a noun), the opposite tends to be true: "Her apparent competence didn't fool anyone." This is just a rule of thumb, however. You should be sure your intention is clear when using this word.

Word History: Today's word comes to us from Latin apparen(t)s "appearing", the present participle of apparere "to appear, come into sight". This verb was built from ad "(up) to" + parere (pareo) "to appear, to come forth". Latin came by this root from Proto-Indo-European perê- "to bring forth, produce". Other words that Latin made of this PIE word include parere (pario) "to give birth to, to beget", present participle of which is paren(t)s, borrowed by English as parent, the begetter par excellence. We also find this root in the English borrowings prepare, and pare, how we bring forth the edible parts of fruits and vegetables. In Dutch we find vaars "heifer, young cow" and in the Baltic language Lithuanian we find pereti "to hatch" from the same root. (Kathleen McCune of Norway recommended that we do patent, and before the research on that word ran out of steam, it set us off on the trail of today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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