latent

adjective
la·tent | \ ˈlā-tᵊnt \

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 \

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

dead, dormant, fallow, free, idle, inactive, inert, inoperative, off, unused, vacant

Antonyms: Adjective

active, alive, busy, employed, functioning, going, living, on, operating, operative, running, working

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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 potential for prosperity – hard work and innovation – is always latent everywhere. Mark Sappenfield, The Christian Science Monitor, "Finding the good beyond the crisis," 13 May 2018 Even strawberry ice cream would arouse no latent anarchistic tendencies, while vanilla or peach would be soothing to the very reddest of the Reds. Linda Rodriguez Mcrobbie, BostonGlobe.com, "How ice cream made America," 30 June 2018 The surge received wide coverage in the media — and activated latent anxieties among Americans. Dara Lind, Vox, "MS-13, explained," 21 May 2018 But remedies to the problem, if any are offered, tend to focus on changing minds — uncovering latent prejudices, implicit biases — not changing the structures that produce and perpetuate the mind-set. Courtland Milloy, Washington Post, "To fight racism, stop trying to fix people. Fix the system that supports racism.," 7 June 2018 There’s a latent metaphor here, waiting to explode into drama. Julia M. Klein, Philly.com, "'Big Red Sun': Search through history and music for truth about father, self," 5 June 2018 For vegetables, burning before serving can caramelize the produce’s latent sugars, adding a sweetness and a kind of creaminess. Todd Plummer, Vogue, "The Right Way to Burn Food, According to the Chefs Who Do It Best," 26 May 2018 What worries Democrats in a primary season where female candidates are having great success, though, is that two of the former candidates are women and could draw latent support from voters eager to support them. Jonathan Martin, New York Times, "Democrats Go All-Out to Avoid Disaster in California House Races," 26 May 2018 Bets by hedge funds against Italian bonds have risen to levels not seen since the financial crisis, in a reminder of latent risks in the eurozone. Laurence Fletcher, WSJ, "Hedge Funds Raise Bets Against Italy, Bond Yields Soar," 25 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

There is nothing as intoxicating as possibility, and the promise latent in every beauty consumable, no matter how tackily packaged or how ludicrous its claims, is matched only by the near guarantee of equivalent disappointment. Charlotte Shane, The Cut, "I Think About This a Lot: Emily Weiss’s Wedding Prep Routine," 3 Apr. 2018 Most of those deposits are cash, taken off the streets and thereby reducing the latent, associated threat of robbery — a threat not just to those working in the industry but also to the ordinary people around them. Robb Mandelbaum, New York Times, "Where Pot Entrepreneurs Go When the Banks Just Say No," 4 Jan. 2018 Instead, the characters in this play learn to love one another, traveling into the light and finding their way to the meaning of God through the latent divine spark within each of us. Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Funny nativity play captures humble spirit of Christmas," 16 Dec. 2017

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

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

Noun

see latent entry 1

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Time Traveler for latent

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

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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 \

Kids Definition of latent

: present but not visible or active a latent infection

latent

adjective
la·tent | \ ˈlāt-ᵊnt \

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 \

Legal Definition of latent 

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

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