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

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 contents of your inbox would change from messages to latent resources, offers, and invitations. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "Work Ruined Email," 2 Aug. 2019 Trump’s hate mongering and stoking latent racial prejudice is fomenting fears, opening old wounds, jingoistic divisions and social conflicts. Henry A. J. Ramos, The Mercury News, "Opinion: Trump is laying the seeds for a new Osama bin Laden," 31 July 2019 When the immune system drops its guard, these latent viruses can start replicating again. Alice Park, Time, "For the First Time, Researchers Eliminated HIV From the Genomes of Living Animals," 2 July 2019 Hispanics, who have been a latent political force in Texas, could also be mobilised. The Economist, "ImmigrationImmigration shapes the politics of California and Texas," 20 June 2019 Reddish has long confounded scouts, possessing a great deal of latent ability that has been mired in inconsistent play. Jeremy Woo, SI.com, "2019 NBA Draft: Ranking Best Forwards Available," 13 June 2019 How might this still life yield a latent image capable of articulating another kind of existence, a runaway image that conveys the riot inside? Longreads, "A Minor Figure," 20 July 2019 Starn and La Serna write, Some analysts would later attribute the war’s carnage to peasant brutality or latent Indian resentment about oppression. Rachel Nolan, Harper's magazine, "A Jagged Scrap of History," 24 June 2019 The team modified the drug for a slow release across several weeks, targeting tissue in the spleen, bone marrow and brain where latent HIV reservoirs, or clusters of inactive HIV cells, were likely to occur. Scottie Andrew And Saeed Ahmed, CNN, "Researchers eliminated HIV from the DNA of infected mice. It's the first step toward a cure for humans, they say," 2 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Today, the wisdom latent in Anders’s words is obvious. Washington Post, "The most stirring photo from the Apollo mission wasn’t of the moon. It was of the Earth.," 17 July 2019 Barack Obama’s victory, the visible symbol of a changing America that no voter could ignore, took all of these latent divides and turbocharged them. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "The 9 thinkers who made sense of 2018’s chaos," 27 Dec. 2018 Obama’s victory, the visible symbol of a changing America that no voter could ignore, took all of these latent divides and turbocharged them. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "The midterm elections revealed that America is in a cold civil war," 7 Nov. 2018 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 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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Statistics for latent

Last Updated

14 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with latent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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