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

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, "Little Richard, flamboyant rocker who fused gospel fervor and R&B sexuality, dies at 87," 9 May 2020 The isolation imposed by the coronavirus has awakened a latent homesteading spirit within many of us. Emily Heil, Houston Chronicle, "How to start regrowing green onions and other vegetables on your windowsill," 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, "In Hollywood, Stories About People of Color Are Still Rare. These Y.A. Fantasy Novels Pick Up the Slack.," 4 Feb. 2020 Participants include 399 men with latent syphilis and 201 who don’t have the disease. Detroit Free Press, "Health and race disparities in America have deep roots: A brief timeline," 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, "Mexico's president shifts tone on coronavirus as border states press for more restrictions," 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, "Anti-Satellite Weapons Are Becoming a Very Real Threat," 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, "What ‘Distributive Justice’ Means for Doctors Treating Covid-19," 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, "5 workers at Michigan wildlife disease lab diagnosed with tuberculosis," 6 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Fortunately coronaviruses do not establish a latent infection. William Petri, The Conversation, "Does coronavirus linger in the body? What we know about how viruses in general hang on in the brain and testicles," 31 July 2020 The public health goal is to identify these latent cases, Rothoff said, which are far cheaper to treat than active TB disease, which take at least six to nine months to treat once diagnosed, said Rothoff. Annie Berman, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska reports the highest rate of tuberculosis infection in the nation, at a time when public health resources are limited," 11 July 2020 Rothoff said that the majority of people with TB have the latent form of TB, and will go decades without having any symptoms. Annie Berman, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska reports the highest rate of tuberculosis infection in the nation, at a time when public health resources are limited," 11 July 2020 Cohn possessed inherently theatrical qualities even before he was immortalized in Angels: the naked venality, the emotionless gaze, the hypocrisy and latent self-hatred. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Roy Cohn’s Final Lesson for Trump," 18 June 2020 The onset of the pandemic — and the potential for a calamitous overrun of the city’s health care system — activated Aragón’s mostly latent powers as health officer to take drastic steps to safeguard the public. Dominic Fracassa, SFChronicle.com, "He’s been SF’s most powerful person in pandemic response. You don’t know his name.," 14 June 2020 Other tiny invaders stick around—among them, the varicella-zoster virus which initially causes chickenpox but then becomes latent in neurons for the rest of a patient’s life. Lois Parshley, National Geographic, "How long does the coronavirus last inside the body?," 3 June 2020 This stage is further divided into three phases — latent, active and transition. Patricia Waldron, New York Times, "What to Expect During the Three Stages of Labor," 18 Apr. 2020 Reuters/Peter Nicholls Automation—the idea that more and more jobs will soon be done by machines rather than people—is a conscious fear for some workers, and a latent pressure felt by many others. Cassie Werber, Quartz, "Losing our jobs to robots may subconsciously be changing the way we vote," 13 Mar. 2020

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 4 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for latent

latent

adjective
How to pronounce latent (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on latent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for latent

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with latent

Spanish Central: Translation of latent

Nglish: Translation of latent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of latent for Arabic Speakers

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