la·ten·cy | \ ˈlā-tᵊn(t)-sē \
plural latencies

Definition of latency 

1 : the quality or state of being latent : dormancy latency is a characteristic common to all members of the troublesome herpes family —Claudia Wallis

2 : something latent writers who know how to evoke these latencies —E. C. Lindeman

3 : a stage of psychosexual (see psychosexual sense 1) development following the phallic (see phallic sense 3) stage that extends from about the age of five or six to the beginning of puberty and during which sexual urges often appear to lie dormant

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Examples of latency in a Sentence

the flower bulbs went from latency to full bloom in a matter of days

Recent Examples on the Web

Sometimes there were awkward pauses that were a beat too long, but thanks to latency, that can happen on a phone call with regular humans, too. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Talking to Google Duplex: Google’s human-like phone AI feels revolutionary," 27 June 2018 But except for satellite services with poor latency and a few large mobile providers, those broadband networks don't serve the whole country. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Senate votes to overturn Ajit Pai’s net neutrality repeal," 16 May 2018 Three years on, the Sensus is still plagued with latency and slow boot-up. Dan Neil, WSJ, "2019 Volvo XC40: Routine Ride, Premium Price," 8 June 2018 In contrast, Bitcoin, the original cryptocurrency backed by the world’s first blockchain, can process seven transactions per second at latencies exceeding 10 minutes. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Japan's Biggest Bank to Switch on Blockchain Payments in 2020," 21 May 2018 The company is working under the assumption that the closer to Earth, the less issues there will be with lag and latency. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Race for Space-Based Internet Is On," 3 Jan. 2018 Again, with the best browser example, Sundar chose numbers of users and latency, or speed. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Kleiner Perkins Chairman John Doerr on Recode Decode," 19 May 2018 With the recent addition of Cloudflare's DoH service to the stub's curated list of public DNS services, DNSCrypt Proxy will almost always connect to Cloudflare by default because of the server's low latency. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "How to keep your ISP’s nose out of your browser history with encrypted DNS," 8 Apr. 2018 OcuSync is designed for low-latency, high-resolution video, specifically for use with DJI’s FPV racing goggles, and promises better performance across the board compared to the old system. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "DJI made a quieter version of the Phantom 4 Pro," 9 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'latency.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of latency

1615, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

5 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for latency

The first known use of latency was in 1615

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More Definitions for latency


la·ten·cy | \ ˈlāt-ᵊn-sē \
plural latencies

Medical Definition of latency 

1 or latency period or latent period

a : the quality or state of being latent especially : the state or period of living or developing in a host without producing symptoms The cellular mechanisms by which viral latency is maintained or viral replication is induced is not known. Science, 20 June 1986 During this nonreplicating latent period, the virus' home is believed to be the ganglia of nerves serving the area where the herpes lesion initially appeared. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 11 Nov. 1983

b : the time or period between exposure to a disease-causing agent or process and the onset of symptoms or disease In the worst cases, chronic active hepatitis develops and can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and finally to hepatocellular carcinoma. … Usually the cancer does not develop until after a 30- to 50- year latency period —Peter Tiollais and Marie-Annick Buenidia, Scientific American, April 1991

2 usually latency period or latency stage : a stage of psychosexual development that follows the phallic stage and precedes the genital stage, extends from about the age of five or six to the beginning of puberty, and during which sexual urges often appear to lie dormant

3 or latent period : the time interval between application of a stimulus and the beginning of an identifiable response (such as muscle contraction) : reaction time

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Comments on latency

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the setting in which something occurs

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