la·​ten·​cy | \ ˈlā-tᵊn(t)-sē How to pronounce latency (audio) \
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 The difficulty lay in developing a high-quality video and radio transmission system, with zero latency between what the dog sees and hears, and what’s transmitted to its handler; the dog and human need to have the same information at the same time. Christina Mackenzie, Popular Science, "These camera-equipped dog goggles keep special-forces canines connected to their handlers," 22 Jan. 2020 With new support for multi-stream audio, source devices will be able to transmit audio simultaneously to both the left and right earbuds at the same time, reducing latency and increasing the quality of stereo audio in some devices. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "New Bluetooth standard copies best features of Apple, Qualcomm’s proprietary tech," 9 Jan. 2020 Satellite alternatives with faster speeds and less latency are in the works. Aldo Svaldi, The Denver Post, "5G technology could widen the digital divide in rural Colorado," 29 Dec. 2019 Playing over Wi-Fi at home reduced the latency down to the 40s and 50s in milliseconds once again. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Hands on with Microsoft's Project xCloud: Putting cellular cloud gaming to the test," 30 Oct. 2019 Midband networks will be operating in a much more congested frequency spectrum, which can impact the consistency of speeds and latency. Arizona Republic, azcentral, "Not all wireless carriers' 5G services perform the same – here's why," 13 Jan. 2020 Higher-latency services of up to 750ms will get an additional weight of 40, which means that traditional satellite services will be at a disadvantage compared to wired or fixed wireless services. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "FCC will pay ISPs to deploy broadband with 250GB monthly data cap," 10 Jan. 2020 The lag times or latency are severalfold higher than rival technologies, which can make gaming and video conferencing unworkable. Aldo Svaldi, The Denver Post, "5G technology could widen the digital divide in rural Colorado," 29 Dec. 2019 In testing, engineers have gotten 5G networks down to a latency of less than 10 milliseconds. Mike Murphy, Quartz, "Why design will make or break the 5G revolution," 5 Nov. 2019

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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Time Traveler for latency

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The first known use of latency was in 1615

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Statistics for latency

Last Updated

7 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Latency.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

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la·​ten·​cy | \ ˈlāt-ᵊn-sē How to pronounce latency (audio) \
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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