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

SpaceX’s idea is to put its satellites into much lower orbit than usual, in order to cut the latency of the services. David Meyer, Fortune, "Here's What You Need to Know About SpaceX's Satellite Broadband Plans," 22 Feb. 2018 That means the potential for speeds 100 times faster than current 4G networks and far lower latency, or better network responsiveness. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, "Smarter devices, faster smartphones will follow from FCC 5G spectrum auctions," 11 July 2018 Combined with technologies to combat apparent latency, games running on a far-off server farm could someday be indistinguishable from one running in the same room. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Ubisoft CEO: Cloud gaming will replace consoles after the next generation," 7 June 2018 Unlike the Surface Precision Mouse, however, the Classic Intellimouse is wired, reducing the latency for gameplay. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft's Classic Intellimouse updates 2003's iconic mouse for the modern era," 27 June 2018 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

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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Statistics for latency

Last Updated

14 Nov 2018

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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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