ap·par·ent (ə-părənt, ə-pâr-)
1. Readily seen; visible: The animal's markings were immediately apparent.
2. Readily understood; clear or obvious: The error was apparent to everyone in the audience.
3. Appearing as such but not necessarily so; seeming: an apparent advantage.
[Middle English, from Old French aparant, present participle of aparoir, to appear; see APPEAR.]
Synonyms: apparent, clear, clear-cut, distinct, evident, manifest, obvious, patent, plain
These adjectives mean readily seen, perceived, or understood: angry for no apparent reason; a clear danger; clear-cut evidence of tampering; a distinct air of hostility; worry that was evident in his features; manifest pleasure; obvious errors; patent advantages; making my meaning plain.
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.