Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: visible; visual.

visible; visual. “Visible” means “capable of being seen; perceptible to the eye.” “Visual” means “of or relating to vision or sight.” Thus, the phrase for a blind or nearly blind person is “visually impaired,” not *”visibly impaired,” which is something of a malapropism — e.g.: o “Lyons also hopes to exhibit a sensory garden in Greeley Park that is accessible to the visibly [read ‘visually’] impaired and the physically challenged.” Tammy Annis, “Barrier Awareness Day,” Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.), 22 Aug. 1993, at B1. o “Stovall is founder and president of the Narrative Television Network, which makes television accessible for blind and visibly [read ‘visually’] impaired people.” “Baptist Official to Speak at Southern Hills,” Tulsa World, 7 Sept. 1996, at D5. “Visibly impaired,” however, is a phrase that police appropriately use in describing a person noticeably affected by alcohol. Language-Change Index — “visibly impaired” misused for “visually impaired”: Stage 1. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ————————————— Quotation of the Day: “Write as you speak. Don’t use formal, high-sounding words that you wouldn’t think of using in conversation. Remember that the finest English in the world is simple English.” Lillian Eichler Watson, The Bantam Book of Correct Letter Writing 13 (1958).
Scroll to Top