I'm looking for a word, could be a noun or verb or adjective, that describes something with varying degrees of opacity/exchange/transfer, possibly that could be controlled. An example that comes to my mind is, 'aperture', which could be opened or closed to either allow light/exchange. Or 'veil' which could either hide or reveal.

Thank you for your answers! I think 'filter' is quite nice. To clarify, this is for an architectural concept. I'm looking for a one-word marketing-style concept for my project. I will be designing a gay space (a sauna) that challenges societal norms relating to sexuality and private/public by exposing some of the program to the public at varying degrees at different parts of the building (through varying glass opacities, etc)

Hopefully that makes it more clear what I'm trying to achieve.

  • Filter is a possibility.
    – Xanne
    Jul 29, 2017 at 6:03
  • transmissivity is the word that came to me first, although it’s likely not helpful as a marketing term.
    – Jim
    Jul 29, 2017 at 8:08
  • Birefringence
    – Phil Sweet
    Jul 29, 2017 at 12:36

3 Answers 3


In terms of physical examples, it sounds like you're talking about something like a lighting gel/color gel, on which tack you might also use the nouns film, filter, aperture, or shutter. Light can also be filtered, obscured, shrouded or occluded. ('Occluder' is also a valid noun but usually refers to an optometrist's tool, so probably isn't what you're looking for.)

Diaphragm and membrane are also closely related words (the apertures of most cameras use iris diaphragms). Note however that a diaphragm is usually a separator, and without the specific context of an optical diaphragm it doesn't imply permeability or exchange, for which 'membrane' is a better match.

If you're looking more generic words about controlling rates or transference, there are also: regulate/regulator, limiter, screen (noun or verb), police (verb)


I agree with the commenter Xanne that "filter" is a possibility, and I think it is the best: it is short, neutral, technical, and adaptable to all kinds of qualities or qualities. (You do not make it clear enough what it is that is being controlled. If "filter" does not help you, you should clarify the kind of the thing-to-be-controlled.)

If you prefer a less latinate, more metaphorical word, try a creative metaphor like

  • rubber bottleneck

But beware: this could remind some of rubberneck.

  • Thank you so much for that! I've updated my description in case you didn't get a notification already.
    – James
    Jul 29, 2017 at 7:56

I am thinking through your question. I will enter ideas that come to mind:

  • Adaptive configuration
  • Appropriates to conditions
  • Auto-temper
  • Self-adjust
  • Configures accordingly
  • conforms as required
  • Malleable to needs

Another approach:

Idiom: Like water it seeks its own level.

  • Other ways to use water metaphors

A word came to me but it's not exactly what you ask, but: Diaphanous.
So alliteration with: dense, direct, diligent,deferrent.

Depending (pardon pun) on the particular use.

Since I don't know where you want it applied these ideas might trigger your own.

  • Thank you for your answer! I have updated my description, not sure how this website works.
    – James
    Jul 29, 2017 at 7:56
  • @James consider taking the tour and head to the help center to find out.
    – Helmar
    Jul 29, 2017 at 8:54
  • Regarding the answer, please explain why these suggestions might be good fits.
    – Helmar
    Jul 29, 2017 at 8:54

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