adjective la·tent \ˈlā-tənt\

—used to describe something (such as a disease) that exists but is not active or cannot be seen

Full Definition of LATENT

:  present and capable of emerging or developing but not now visible, obvious, active, or symptomatic <a latent infection>
la·tent·ly adverb

Examples of LATENT

  1. <he has a latent talent for acting that he hasn't had a chance to express yet>
  2. On the ground in Afghanistan there is some latent, if wary, gratitude for American aid over the years, but no one expects to build a foundation for the Taliban's downfall on a couple of million rice cakes. —Michael Duffy, Time, 15 Oct. 2001

Origin of LATENT

Middle English, from Latin latent-, latens, from present participle of latēre to lie hidden; akin to Greek lanthanein to escape notice
First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of LATENT

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>.

Other Psychology Terms

fetish, hypochondria, intelligence, mania, narcissism, neurosis, pathological, psychosis, schadenfreude, subliminal

Rhymes with LATENT


noun la·tent \ˈlā-tənt\

Definition of LATENT

:  a fingerprint (as at the scene of a crime) that is scarcely visible but can be developed for study —called also latent fingerprint, latent print

Origin of LATENT

(see 1latent)
First Known Use: 1923
LATENT Defined for Kids


adjective la·tent \ˈlā-tənt\

Definition of LATENT for Kids

:  present but not visible or active <a latent infection>
Medical Dictionary


adjective la·tent \ˈlāt-ənt\

Medical Definition of LATENT

:  existing in hidden or dormant form: as a :  present or capable of living or developing in a host without producing visible symptoms of disease <a latent virus> <a latent infection> b :  not consciously expressed <latent anxiety> c :  relating to or being the latent content of a dream or thought
la·tent·ly adverb
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