latent, dormant, quiescent, potential mean not now showing signs of activity or existence. latent applies to a power or quality that has not yet come forth but may emerge and develop <a latent desire for success>. dormant suggests the inactivity of something (as a feeling or power) as though sleeping <their passion had lain dormant>. quiescent suggests a usually temporary cessation of activity <the disease was quiescent>. potential applies to what does not yet have existence or effect but is likely soon to have <a potential disaster>.