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What is the opposite of Dense?

  1. Feb 7, 2012 #1
    Hi everyone. This is technically more of a question of language and etymology, but i figured here mightbe a good place to ask since the words in question concern physical properties of an object.

    As far as I'm aware, the word Dense has two meanings:

    One referring to frequency, eg a densely packed population (living in apartment blocks). The opposite of this is Sparse, i think. A sparse population being rural.

    The other definition of Dense is, i think, the expression of the mass to volume relationship of objects. Iron has a much higher density than water, for instance. And a cube of iron will have a higher mass than an equivilantly sized cbe of water.

    But when it comes to this second definition, i don't know any word to concisely describe the opposite. Sparse doesn't seem appropriate for solid objects or substances. The best ive come up with so far is "less dense" or "not dense" which seems like a cop out.

    any thoughts ?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2012 #2
    I hear the terms 'Tenuous' and 'Rarefied', particularly when it comes to gasses.
  4. Feb 7, 2012 #3
  5. Feb 7, 2012 #4


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    Sparse, rarefied... depends on the context I suppose.
  6. Feb 7, 2012 #5


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    There need not be a problem with this once you actually quote a value for the Density. There is a parallel with the words Massive and Energy. The best way to deal with this is to construct your sentences appropriately. That's the great thing about Maths.
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