- Readily seen; visible: The animal's markings were immediately apparent.
- Readily understood; clear or obvious: The error was apparent to everyone in the audience.
- Appearing as such but not necessarily so; seeming: an apparent advantage.
Origin of apparent
Middle English from
Old French aparant present participle of aparoir to appear
; see appear
Usage Note: Apparent is related to appear, and when something appears to have a property it may or may not have that property in reality. The adjective apparent can indicate either possibility, as in The effects of the drought are apparent to anyone who sees the parched fields (that is, how they appear is how they are) and His virtues are only apparent (that is, how they appear is not how they are). Some style guides maintain that apparent should not be used before a noun to mean “appearing to be such but not necessarily so,” as in The victim suffered an apparent heart attack, because a heart attack that is only “apparent” is not a heart attack at all. But in practice all readers will understand that an apparent heart attack means “something that appears to have been a heart attack, whether or not it was one.” In our 2015 survey, 80 percent of the Usage Panel found the example above acceptable.