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I'm referring to densities of materials, not the number of particles per unit volume.

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... and how exactly do you define the densities of materials? –  coleopterist Nov 21 '12 at 18:25
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We need some context about how you want to use it and what kinds of things you will be referring to. For example, air that is not dense can be called thin or rarified. Vacuous means empty or lacking content. However, balsa wood is not very dense but could not be called vacuous or rarified, and if it was called thin it would refer to a phsyical dimension. Lots of materials are simply called low-density materials. In other cases these are called lightweight materials. –  Jim Nov 21 '12 at 18:25
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As an aside, it's funny that calling someone dense or vacuous both means they're stupid. The first means their head is too dense for information to penetrate, while the second means there's nothing in their head to retain the information that reaches it. –  Jim Nov 21 '12 at 18:39
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@jim: "dense" also means profound and/or esoteric, so it is also its own antonym –  horatio Nov 21 '12 at 20:12
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I'm confused because the density of materials (in science). In reference to a material's density, it IS a measure of the number of particles per unit volume. Which definition then, are using? –  balanced mama Nov 21 '12 at 20:17
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2 Answers

I can think of sparse or lean, depending on context.

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Density is a property of matter describing how closely packed together its molecules are (dictionary.com). It is essentially the same use as a population description where many people packed closely together is considered a dense population.

Because everything has a density, but different densities are relative, the closest thing to the opposite of Dense you can get is either an absence of matter all together or Not Dense, or Less Dense. I'm sorry I can't offer anything better, but in all my years learning and teaching chemistry, I don't believe I've ever seen or heard an actual opposite for the term.

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If the "material" in question were a gas, you could use rarefied. I can't think of a general term applicable to solids either, though. –  Useless Nov 21 '12 at 18:53
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"vacuum" (and perhaps loosely "vacuous")? –  horatio Nov 21 '12 at 20:10
    
Hah that's great! It is a different Form of the word though. Material has density. Can you say it has vacuousness? –  balanced mama Nov 21 '12 at 20:13
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