silence

noun
si·​lence | \ ˈsī-lən(t)s How to pronounce silence (audio) \

Definition of silence

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : forbearance from speech or noise : muteness often used interjectionally
2 : absence of sound or noise : stillness in the silence of the night
3 : absence of mention:
b : secrecy weapons research was conducted in silence
4 genetics : to block the genetic expression of RNA interference is a natural phenomenon. When a cell senses a double strand of RNA, it acts to silence any genes with the corresponding sequence of bases.— Andrew Pollack

silence

verb
silenced; silencing

Definition of silence (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to compel or reduce to silence : still silenced the crowd
2 : suppress silence dissent
3 : to cause to cease hostile firing or criticism silence the opposition

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Synonyms for silence

Synonyms: Noun

dumbness, muteness, speechlessness, stillness

Synonyms: Verb

dumb, extinguish, hush, mute, quell, quiet, quieten [chiefly British], settle, shush, shut up, squelch, still

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Examples of silence in a Sentence

Noun

I find it hard to sleep unless there is complete silence. The silence was broken by the sound of footsteps in the hallway. We sat there in dead silence. My sister's revelation was met with stunned silence. The professor asked for silence. There was an awkward silence after he confessed his love for her. A long silence followed her reply. We must break 50 years of silence on issues like the government's involvement in assassination and espionage. I will not be intimidated into silence. She finally ended her silence and spoke to the media about what happened.

Verb

My sister's revelation silenced everyone around the table. Disconnecting the battery will silence the alarm. The mayor tried to silence his critics. I will not be silenced! It's obvious that the purpose of this law is to silence dissent.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

That silence is often interpreted or manifested as apathy. Wade Davis, Good Housekeeping, "It's Time to Stop the Cycle of Shame, and Teach Boys How to Love Themselves," 30 Apr. 2019 Sorry, other games, but this is going to be the game that goes on the moment there's more than two people in my home and a silence lasting longer than five seconds. Joshua Rivera, GQ, "Every Video Game Worth Paying Attention to from E3 2018," 14 June 2018 Albon hit the wall on the final turn as fans sat in silence until with only his still head visible in the cockpit. Stephen Wade, The Seattle Times, "Alexander Albon survives stunning crash in Chinese practice," 12 Apr. 2019 But thankfully, pro-gun advocates are not the majority, so the lobby is forced to operate in silence. Zac Fleming, Harper's BAZAAR, "New Zealand Banned Guns After Thoughts and Prayers. Why Can’t America?," 23 Mar. 2019 Flags flew at half-staff and meetings began with moments of silence across the United Nations on Monday as workers and officials memorialized the 21 staff members of the world body killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash. Farnaz Fassihi, WSJ, "U.N. Remembers Victims of Ethiopian Airlines Crash," 11 Mar. 2019 Other major houses—comeback stories such as the ones owned by Bruce Kovner at 1130 Fifth Avenue and John Paulson at 9 East 86th Street—sit in silence, backs turned on their glittering, very public pasts. David Netto, Town & Country, "Is Roman Abramovich's Controversial New York City Mansion the Future of Manhattan Real Estate?," 30 Jan. 2019 For nearly six hours, Alana and her classmates remained hidden in silence, without food or water or access to bathrooms. John Woodrow Cox, The Seattle Times, "Numerous school lockdowns are traumatizing the nation’s children," 26 Dec. 2018 Instead of turning to a therapist or counselor, many black folks suffer in silence. Vanessa Willhoughby, Allure, "The Reality of Navigating the Mental Health System as a Black Woman," 13 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Another way to silence the horns is to lower the tracks into an underground trench to eliminate the at-grade crossings, a move the city of Solana Beach made more than 20 years ago. Phil Diehl, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Railroad 'quiet zone' on target for 2019 finish," 18 June 2018 If there’s one way to silence a crowd in a road playoff game, a buzzer-beater from 70-plus feet will certainly do the trick. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "J.R. Smith casually drained an off-balanced shot from the opposite 3-point line," 22 Apr. 2018 The brutal shooting death of the activist and politician, a black single mother from the city’s Maré slum, sparked fears of a politically motivated execution to silence a vocal critic of police violence against the city’s poorest. ... Jeffrey T. Lewis, WSJ, "Two Former Police Officers Charged in Killing of Brazilian Activist Marielle Franco," 12 Mar. 2019 Their votes represent their efforts to reduce the discriminatory policies enacted by the Republican Party throughout the state to silence their voices in policy-making decisions. Taylor Crumpton, Teen Vogue, "Beto O'Rourke Won With Texas's Black Women Because We Are Still the Moral Compass of United States Politics," 12 Nov. 2018 All four defendants have filed counterclaims or motions to dismiss, several of which accused Landan of attempting to use the court system to silence his accusers. Bailey Loosemore, The Courier-Journal, "Haymarket defamation lawsuit moves forward with new court ruling," 28 June 2018 The Cincinnati Reds left Kauffman Stadium with a 7-0 win Wednesday, the latest staff to silence the Royals’ offense. Sam Mcdowell, kansascity, "National League’s worst pitching staff shuts down the Royals a second straight night," 13 June 2018 Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, brought the lawsuit to free herself from the agreement that silenced her as the 2016 presidential campaign reached its conclusion. Brian Melley, The Seattle Times, "Porn star’s hush money suit against Trump could be tossed," 22 Jan. 2019 Many attempts have been made to censor and silence him. Constance Grady, Vox, "The Alice Walker anti-Semitism controversy, explained," 20 Dec. 2018

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

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for silence

Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin silentium, from silent-, silens

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Statistics for silence

Last Updated

8 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for silence

The first known use of silence was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for silence

silence

noun

English Language Learners Definition of silence

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a lack of sound or noise
: a situation, state, or period of time in which people do not talk
: a situation or state in which someone does not talk about or answer questions about something

silence

verb

English Language Learners Definition of silence (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause (someone or something) to stop speaking or making noise : to cause (someone or something) to become silent
: to stop (someone) from expressing opinions that are opposed to your own or from telling people about bad things that you have done
: to stop (something) from being expressed or revealed

silence

noun
si·​lence | \ ˈsī-ləns How to pronounce silence (audio) \

Kids Definition of silence

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the state of keeping or being silent The teacher motioned for silence.
2 : the state of there being no sound or noise : stillness

silence

verb
silenced; silencing

Kids Definition of silence (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to stop the noise or speech of : cause to be silent
2 : suppress sense 1 The group tried to silence opposing views.

silence

transitive verb
si·​lence | \ ˈsī-lən(t)s How to pronounce silence (audio) \
silenced; silencing

Medical Definition of silence

: to block the genetic expression of : suppress the gene was silenced using the technique of RNA interference

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silence

noun
si·​lence

Legal Definition of silence

1 : the state of keeping or being silent especially : forbearance from speech or comment
2 : failure to make something known especially in violation of a duty to do so acceptance by silence — see also estoppel by silence at estoppel sense 1

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More from Merriam-Webster on silence

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for silence

Spanish Central: Translation of silence

Nglish: Translation of silence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of silence for Arabic Speakers

Comments on silence

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