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I'm trying to characterize the appearance of two overlapping patterns. I'll try to describe the type of visual effect I'm thinking of with an example, but I don't have an actual image at hand.

The example: start by imagining a many-paned window that has strong sunlight coming through it. You would see the shadow lines of the panes (*) on the floor. Now place a tree outside the window. The tree would cast its own shadow consisting of branches & leaves. On the floor you have the mixed shadow lines from both tree and window.

Now this is just an example - don't focus too much on the exact window/tree specifics. The key is that the final impression (the shadow on the floor) has completely mixed together the two sources of the imagery.

What is a word or expression that would describe this mixing of patterns?


(*) actually the muntins / mullions of course, not the actual clear glass itself

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  • Perhaps a fusion although strangely the shadows are an absence of light. Sep 28, 2020 at 19:04
  • @WeatherVane interesting because the shadows are fused, but the spaces between them are more fragmented than they started with. Both at once. Sep 28, 2020 at 19:05
  • As an addition to this line of thought rather than an answer, look up “Moiré patterns”. You may enjoy it.
    – Anton
    Sep 28, 2020 at 22:52

3 Answers 3

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The closest words would be commingled and coalescent.

Commingle: to blend thoroughly into a harmonious whole.

Example: that fine and funny book, in which horror and laughter are commingled.

[Merriam-Webster]

Coalescent: Coming together to form one mass or whole.

Example: the tumour cells were distributed into discrete and coalescent nodules.

[Lexico]


You could also use superimposed.

Superimpose: to put especially a picture, words, etc. on top of something else, especially another picture, words, etc., so that what is in the lower position can still be seen, heard, etc.

Example: The book cover had a picture of a dove superimposed on a battle scene.

[Cambridge English Dictionary]

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  • Overall I think superimpose is closest to what I had in mind, thanks. But picking an answer here feels very subjective. Nov 5, 2020 at 13:38
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I think the word 'overlap' could be used to good effect. In your example, you could express the phenomenon as an overlapping of shadows from different sources. I can imagine 'overlapping' being used to describe other types of patterns mingling too, like digital images for example.

Other words which might fit (depending on the specifics of the phenomenon) are: meld, merge, combine, mingle, intermingle, blend, fuse, etc.

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imbricate, adj. and n.

OED

†1. Formed like a gutter-tile or pantile. Obsolete. 1656 T. Blount Glossographia Imbricate, square and bent like a roof or gutter-Tile, which the Latines call Imbrex; also covered with such a Tile.

2.a. Covered with or composed of scales or scalelike parts overlapping like roof-tiles; e.g. said of the scaly covering of reptiles and fishes, of leaf-buds, the involucre of Compositæ, etc.

b. Of leaves, scales, etc.: Overlapping like tiles.

1796 P. Russell Acct. Indian Serpents Coromandel I. 7 (T.) Two rows..of larger scales, ovate and imbricate.

1852 J. D. Dana U.S. Exploring Exped.: Crustacea Pt. I 483 Branchiæ..composed each of imbricate plates in two series.

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