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Rigamarole
04-17-2010, 06:41 PM
Now before some smarty-pants comes and says visible means visible to the eye, I'm trying to differentiate between something that can be "seen" with the help of instrumentation, such as a microscope or radar, versus seeing something, well, with your own eyes. The phrase "visible to the naked eye" is cumbersome, and I can't think of another way of specifically expressing this concept.

The only other phrase I've heard along these lines is "to have eyes on", which I generally associate with the military and film sets. Ex. "Do you have eyes on the target?" to me would connote that you can actually see the object yourself and not just on radar. Is there any other word or phrase for this that I'm not thinking of?

Triskadecamus
04-17-2010, 06:45 PM
I see.

What you want is a word that means only I have unaugmented visual perception real time without interference of the specific object designated.

I can see some difficulties in finding that word.

See what I mean?

Tris

John Mace
04-17-2010, 06:46 PM
Macroscopic.

Rigamarole
04-17-2010, 06:49 PM
Macroscopic.

That's good when you're specifically differentiating between microscopic and macroscopic objects. But it doesn't work for other ways of "seeing" things. Like if I can see something through thermal or night-vision goggles but can't see it without them.

Edit: Oh and also, even in the context of macroscopic things - surely a planet that's very far away would be considered macroscopic, even if it's not visible to the naked eye without a telescope? So it doesn't quite describe what I'm getting at.

johnpost
04-17-2010, 06:57 PM
eyeable

Mangetout
04-17-2010, 06:58 PM
I think it is either going to be 'visible' when there is an agreed context - so both speaker and hearer know what the term means, or 'visible to the naked eye' when there isn't, or when there might be ambiguity. It doesn't seem a common enough area of confusion to have spawned its own single-word term.

Xema
04-17-2010, 09:01 PM
Apparent? Discernible?

Polycarp
04-17-2010, 09:06 PM
Visible ("to the naked eye" being implied by skillful use of the context) is probably your best bet. Using the contrast between "visual" and "instrument [aided]" from aviation may be of use too.

ETA: By the first sentence, I would mean sentences of the form "Only about 6,000 stars are visible in all. Using even low-powered field glasses adds almost 10,000 more."

Kimstu
04-17-2010, 09:27 PM
Astronomers use the phrase "naked eye visible" to refer to celestial objects that are.

Gukumatz
04-17-2010, 10:29 PM
How about ocular?

Dictionary.com definition number 3 states:

"performed or perceived by the eye or eyesight"

scr4
04-17-2010, 10:40 PM
Astronomers use the phrase "naked eye visible" to refer to celestial objects that are.

Or just "naked eye" for short. E.g. a "naked eye comet" is a comet that's visible to the naked eye.

Gary T
04-17-2010, 11:57 PM
Not a single word, but a phrase: "visible unaided."

Autolycus
04-18-2010, 03:56 AM
Shpadoinkle?

Fake Tales of San Francisco
04-18-2010, 04:57 AM
How about ocular?

Dictionary.com definition number 3 states:

"performed or perceived by the eye or eyesight"

That would have been my suggestion, though it does depend on who you're communicating this concept to, since ocular isn't a hugely well known word.

Mangetout
04-18-2010, 06:32 AM
Ocular just means of or pertaining to the eye. Ocular stars could mean stars you can see with your eye, or stars designed to be put into the eye, for example. (obviously the latter is unlikely, but there are bound to be other examples that would be ambiguous)

chappachula
04-18-2010, 01:18 PM
how the phrase "visual contact"?



on second thought...
why say "do you have visual contact with the objective?",
if you can just as easily say "can you see it?" :)

John Mace
04-18-2010, 01:49 PM
Seeable. Is that a word?

Peremensoe
04-18-2010, 02:16 PM
Seeable. Is that a word?

No. The word is "visible," but since the OP has disavowed the actual correct answer, there's no point in talking about it.

Rigamarole
04-18-2010, 03:22 PM
No. The word is "visible," but since the OP has disavowed the actual correct answer, there's no point in talking about it.

The problem with visible is it's not always assumed to mean naked eye visible. Would you say that a faraway planet is invisible? What about something that's right in front of you when it's too dark to see it? And then you put on some thermal goggles and you can see it - is it now visible? If that's the case then it's not the right word.

Good suggestions by all though. It's interesting that we don't have a single clear word for this.

Peremensoe
04-18-2010, 04:00 PM
Would you say that a faraway planet is invisible?

Yes.

What about something that's right in front of you when it's too dark to see it?

Yes.

And then you put on some thermal goggles and you can see it - is it now visible?

It is "thermally visible," or "visible with the aid of instruments," or some other qualifying phrase.

It's interesting that we don't have a single clear word for this.

Look, there are many, many words in English (as, I understand, in most languages) where precise meaning depends on context.

In the case of "visible," it's because, in the real world, virtually all contexts for seeing things fall into one of two categories:

(a) realms (such as grocery shopping) in which almost everything is expected to be visible to the unaided eye; in this context "visible" does mean "visible to the naked eye." You wouldn't use the full phrase because that's understood; you would only qualify the word if something was not visible to the naked eye; and,

(b) realms (such as astronomy, or microbiology) in which almost everything is expected to be invisible to the unaided eye, and observed with instruments. If one speaks of "visible bacterial activity," it is understood that this means visible-with-a-microscope. If the bacterial activity really is macroscopically visible, that is the unusual situation requiring qualification. (The same principle applies for the example of "naked eye comet," above.)

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