in silico

adverb or adjective

in sil·​i·​co in-ˈsi-li-ˌkō How to pronounce in silico (audio)
: in or on a computer : done or produced by using computer software or simulation
in silico predictions
dissect a frog in silico

Did you know?

In silico literally means "in silicon" in New Latin, and is a nod to the importance of silicon in the creation of computer chips. (The same nod is given in the name "Silicon Valley.") In silico, which dates only to the early 1990s, is modeled on and often contrasted with two similarly-structured terms, both of which date to the pre-computer days right around the start of the 20th century. In vitro means "outside the living body and in an artificial environment." (In New Latin in vitro means "in glass.") In vivo translates as "in the living" in New Latin, and is used in English to mean "in the living body of a plant or animal."

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web There is one study that was performed in silico — meaning simulated in a computer program — which showed that ricinoleic acid, a component of castor oil, may act similarly to prostaglandin analogues, which are known drugs for counteracting hair loss. Dori Price, Good Housekeeping, 8 July 2022 That sounds a lot like computational materials science, a relatively new field that attempts to create, model, and predict the properties of new materials in silico, rapidly prototyping one after another on supercomputers to determine which combination might have an optimal set of characteristics. Tim De Chant, Ars Technica, 8 Apr. 2022 The agency agreed that such in silico simulations were sufficient for regulatory approval of inpatient human trials. Boris Kovatchev, IEEE Spectrum, 21 Nov. 2021 This is where crops in silico may help. Leslie Nemo, Scientific American, 18 Aug. 2017 The in silico movement for drug discovery is in its nascence, but researchers like Shoichet have advanced the field over the past four years. Meghana Keshavan, STAT, 1 Oct. 2022 Biotech entrepreneurs now routinely utilize in silico modeling and contract research organizations to conduct early-stage experiments. Neil Littman, Forbes, 16 June 2021 Jonathan Lynch, a plant physiologist at The Pennsylvania State University and another founder of the crops in silico movement, looks at root behavior under a range of soil nutrient conditions. Leslie Nemo, Scientific American, 18 Aug. 2017 Beyond speeding results and mitigating the risks of clinical trials, in silico medicine can be used in place of risky interventions that are required for diagnosing or planning treatment of certain medical conditions. Daniel E. Hurtado, Scientific American, 10 Nov. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'in silico.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


New Latin, literally, in silicon

First Known Use

1987, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of in silico was in 1987


Dictionary Entries Near in silico

Cite this Entry

“In silico.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2023.

Medical Definition

in silico

adjective or adverb
in sil·​i·​co in-ˈsi-li-ˌkō How to pronounce in silico (audio)
: in or on a computer : done or produced by using computer software or simulation
A structure as complex as the human brain … can't simply be replicated in silico; you can't draw up a blueprint for the myriad interconnections of our billions of neurons.Steven Johnson, The Nation
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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