latent

adjective
la·​tent | \ ˈlā-tᵊnt How to pronounce latent (audio) \

Definition of latent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: present and capable of emerging or developing but not now visible, obvious, active, or symptomatic a latent infection

latent

noun
la·​tent | \ ˈlā-tᵊnt How to pronounce latent (audio) \

Definition of latent (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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

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Other Words from latent

Adjective

latently adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for latent

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for latent

Adjective

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 (such 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

Examples of latent in a Sentence

Adjective 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 There were such inexhaustible possibilities still before her, such opportunities to bring out the latent graces of the old place, without a single irreverent touch of alteration, that the winter months were all too short to plan what spring and autumn executed. — Edith Wharton, Afterward, 1910 Calm, gentle, passionless, as he appeared, there was yet, we fear, a quiet depth of malice, hitherto latent, but active now, in this unfortunate old man, which led him to imagine a more intimate revenge than any mortal had ever wreaked upon an enemy. — Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, 1850 he has a latent talent for acting that he hasn't had a chance to express yet
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The latent conflict between his show business lifestyle and his ingrained religious beliefs came to a head during a 1957 tour of Australia. Richard Cromelin, Los Angeles Times, 9 May 2020 The isolation imposed by the coronavirus has awakened a latent homesteading spirit within many of us. Emily Heil, Houston Chronicle, 23 Apr. 2020 When Emil shocks everyone by discovering his own latent powers, Brighton hates the idea of suddenly being unremarkable and left behind. Karen Valby, New York Times, 4 Feb. 2020 Participants include 399 men with latent syphilis and 201 who don’t have the disease. Detroit Free Press, 20 Apr. 2020 Border concerns Another more latent challenge, and one of the biggest sources of criticism for López Obrador's handling of the coronavirus, is the situation and level of exposure along the U.S.-Mexico border. Rafael Carranza, azcentral, 4 Apr. 2020 Japan is considering building anti-satellite weapons but also uses the same radar and missile system involved in Operation Burnt Frost, giving it a latent ASAT capability. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 1 Apr. 2020 Other scientists point to differences among host immune systems, or suggest that the virus sometimes reactivates latent viruses encountered earlier in patients’ lives, so that some people’s bodies are forced to fight infections on multiple fronts. Laura Kolbe, The New York Review of Books, 19 Mar. 2020 Five people who worked in a Michigan wildlife disease lab have been diagnosed with a latent form of tuberculosis, a spokesman said Friday. Ed White, Detroit Free Press, 6 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The country’s crumbling healthcare sector had turned it into an incubator for diphtheria, chikungunya, dengue and malaria, and is considered by scientists to be a latent danger to other countries. Ryan Dube, WSJ, 2 June 2021 There’s also the sheer pressure of time in quiet, contemplative sequences—walking, driving, fishing—that seethe with latent violence. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 1 June 2021 Combat brings latent desires to the surface, desires for purpose, intensity, solidarity, and belonging. Greg Jackson, Harper's Magazine, 25 May 2021 Unlocking the full quota of potential in people requires managing the fear that stymies candor, freezes initiative, and leaves ingenuity latent. Dr Margie Warrell, Forbes, 25 May 2021 This conceit underlines, in poetic terms, both the superhuman stealth demanded of real-life fugitives and their abolitionist allies and the latent capabilities of a people who’d been violently prevented from working for their own benefit. Judy Berman, Time, 13 May 2021 Their projects are a combination of the chefs’ latent passions and the kitchens that gave them space to thrive. Soleil Ho, San Francisco Chronicle, 11 May 2021 Whatever latent Maoist hopes Hawley might harbor, there’s no returning to a nation of smallholders and cottage industries. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, 4 May 2021 When his secret past comes back to haunt him, a small-town stoner must use his latent, deadly skills to prevent the CIA from taking him out. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, 19 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'latent.' 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 latent

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun

1920, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for latent

Adjective and Noun

Middle English, from Latin latent-, latens, from present participle of latēre to lie hidden; akin to Greek lanthanein to escape notice

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Time Traveler for latent

Time Traveler

The first known use of latent was in the 15th century

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Statistics for latent

Cite this Entry

“Latent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/latent. Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for latent

latent

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of latent

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

latent

adjective
la·​tent | \ ˈlā-tᵊnt How to pronounce latent (audio) \

Kids Definition of latent

: present but not visible or active a latent infection

latent

adjective
la·​tent | \ ˈlāt-ᵊnt How to pronounce latent (audio) \

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

Other Words from latent

latently adverb

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latent

adjective
la·​tent | \ ˈlāt-ᵊnt How to pronounce latent (audio) \

Legal Definition of latent

: existing in hidden or dormant form but usually capable of being brought to light — compare patent

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