It seems to me that "transparency" can be considered to be an antonym of "privacy". This isn't symmetric. Because few people would think of "privacy" as an antonym of "transparency". So where does the symmetry break down?

Edit: since the question is attracting some answers which address the title of the question, but are skipping the content of the question, I'll add an emphasis.

Emphasis: I am specifically asking "why does the symmetry break down?" Transparency is an antonym of privacy while privacy is not an antonym of transparency.

I freely admit that both terms have a lot of controversial uses attached to them. Most of the controversy is around where the boundaries of the terms lie and where they "should" lie. But in their basic usage, the lack of symmetry remains.

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  • How about "openness" or (choke) "publicness". And of course there's "publicity". – Hot Licks Oct 30 '15 at 0:59
  • Yeah, or broad-daylightedness. – Ricky Oct 30 '15 at 2:47
  • Does it have to be a single word? – Academiphile Oct 30 '15 at 4:21
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    It breaks down because transparency has an exact antonym: opacity google.com/search?q=opaque google.com/search?q=opacity – Brian Hitchcock Oct 30 '15 at 7:29
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    Privacy has several nuances, from doors on restroom stalls, to Bill of Rights search-and-seizure protections, to whether or not Facebook should share your buying habits or exact physical location with the rest of the world. In some senses, intrusion or invasion (of privacy) are apt (invasion of privacy is a set phrase.) But the least "loaded" antonym is lack of privacy. Sorry. – Brian Hitchcock Oct 30 '15 at 7:38

The symmetry breaks down because there are multiple meanings of the word privacy. Depending on the nuance required, various antonyms are appropriate.

It is not uncommon in English to have words that do not have a single, exact, precise antonym. We all learned the easy ones: big/small, wet/dry. But words like privacy have too many shades of meaning to have a single antonym.

The best antonyms, depending on how the word privacy is used, are probably:

  • publicity
  • transparency
  • openness
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Probably publicity with the following connotation, conveys the meaning you are looking for:

  • Information about someone or something that is disseminated through various media to attract public notice: The publicity that went out about the film was not very exciting.


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  • Privacy, even in its most straight-forward meaning, is more than just lack of publicity. – Dmitry Rubanovich Oct 30 '15 at 12:44

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