I was reading the meaning of the word apparent. I found that the word has two completely opposite meanings, 1. Easy to recognize that something is true. 2. Something seems to be true but might not be.

Now, how do I decide which meaning fits in which sentence. E.g. consider these sentences,

  1. The sun is apparently yellow.
  2. It is apparent that the sun is yellow.

Does this sentence mean that it is easy to recognize that sun is yellow, or does it mean that the sun seems to be yellow but it isn't yellow actually.

2 Answers 2


On my understanding, "apparent" only means that what you are saying is about appearance, a thing seen, an aspect or a look.

It does not decree if it is true but that what you are talking about is only from an outside point of view.

It is with context that you can say if it is sarcastic/false or true.

From wiktionary :

apparent (comparative more apparent, superlative most apparent)

  • Capable of being seen, or easily seen; open to view; visible to the eye; within sight or view.

  • Clear or manifest to the understanding; plain; evident; obvious; known; palpable; indubitable.

  • Appearing to the eye or mind (distinguished from, but not necessarily opposed to, true or real); seeming.

  • Just below that wiktionary article there are usage notes, which say apparent has two completely opposite meanings.
    – user31782
    Jun 3, 2015 at 16:01
  • No, not two meanings. Two uses. We use it when appearance agrees with the truth, and we use it when it disagrees. "The sun appears yellow" is a good statement, and it means the same thing regardless of whether the sun is yellow or white. We can agree about the apparent color even while we argue about the true color. Jun 3, 2015 at 17:02
  • In the first sentence "It was apparent that no one knew the answer. (=No one knew the answer, and it showed.)" they say that it was Clearly true that no one knew the answer. Can it mean that actually someone knew the answer but it seemed that no one knew?
    – user31782
    Jun 23, 2015 at 13:53
  • @user31782 The sentence is based on the "apparent" meaning that is near of "it is true/clear that..." but it is only BASED on something seen, not something certified true
    – Yohann V.
    Jun 23, 2015 at 14:09
  • So we use "Apparent", (1) when we are confident that something is true/false -- but not 100% sure, and (2) when we just make guess about something -- which makes the statement less decisive.
    – user31782
    Jun 23, 2015 at 14:12

There is an idiomatic English usage of 'apparent/apparently', which is almost sarcastic:

"Did you read the politician's explanation for accepting that bribe? Apparently, he was going to donate the money to an orphanage."

Here, we understand that the given reason originated from the politician himself but our use of the word 'apparently' implies that we don't believe it. Even more confusing would be the sentence :

"Apparently, he was going to donate the money to an orphanage, but it was apparent that the money was intended for himself."

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