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

Real Madrid confirmed that coach Zinedine Zidane’s brother Farid died, sharing a photo of players and staff holding a minute’s silence in his honor ahead of training on Saturday. Emily Caron, SI.com, "Real Madrid Confirms Death of Zinedine Zidane's Brother," 13 July 2019 Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, attended most of their sessions in relative silence. Brandon R. Brown, Smithsonian, "Apollo Engineers Discuss What It Took to Land on the Moon," 12 July 2019 Prosecutors allege that Howard and Pecker were involved in deals to silence Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal. John Wagner, BostonGlobe.com, "House panel poised to subpoena Kushner, Sessions, 10 others with ties to Trump," 11 July 2019 Prosecutors allege that Howard and Pecker were involved in deals to silence Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal. al.com, "House panel votes to subpoena Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner," 11 July 2019 Many of these accompaniments present bland or sweet tastes that calm down your mouth — little silences in the opera of jerk. Rand Richards Cooper, courant.com, "Review: Saz Jamaican Restaurant, Newington," 10 July 2019 Inside a sprawling midcentury modern house in the West Hollywood hills, Mereba and her lover oscillate between silence and bursts of fleeting joy through a black and white filter. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Rising Singer Mereba Serves Up Regal Beauty in Her New “Sandstorm” Music Video," 9 July 2019 Some stood in stunned silence for hours as Cleveland police combed the crime scene and talked to witnesses and family members. Adam Ferrise, cleveland.com, "3-year-old girl, 5-year-old boy among four dead in Cleveland’s Slavic Village, family member says," 9 July 2019 The official silence that has greeted the report has been deafening. Jackson Diehl, The Denver Post, "Commentary: Mohammed bin Salman is our newest Saddam Hussein," 8 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The White House is holding a closed-door social media summit on Thursday that’s short on social media companies and long on fringe conservative voices that back up President Donald Trump’s claims of being silenced online. Ben Brody, Fortune, "Trump Is Holding a Social Media Summit Today. Here’s Who Will Attend—And Who Won’t," 11 July 2019 Wang’s comments were an unacceptable attempt by a public official to try to silence dissent. Mercury News Editorial Board, The Mercury News, "Editorial: Cupertino official should apologize for housing outburst," 28 June 2019 Irineo Mujica says the charges against him were concocted to try to silence his criticism of the Mexican government's immigration crackdowns on Central American migrants under pressure by U.S. President Donald Trump. Daniel González, azcentral, "Immigrant-rights activist accuses Mexico of arresting him for political purposes," 19 June 2019 Around the same time, Mr. Qahtani was carrying out a campaign of silencing women’s rights activists, people familiar with the matter said. Summer Said, WSJ, "Behind Saudi Prince’s Crackdown Was Confidant Tied to Khashoggi Killing," 2 Nov. 2018 Mahdi, a Tehran resident, was 19 in 2009 when Iranians took to the streets in large numbers to protest their government, only to be repressed and silenced. Washington Post, "‘I have lost hope for my life’: Iranians describe hardships as Trump expands sanctions," 1 July 2019 That’s when Thorns substitute Tyler Lussi stunned the Houston defense and silenced the crowd with a shot sent curling near post from well outside the box that bested the keeper for the game-tying goal in the 70th minute. Tim Brown, oregonlive.com, "Portland Thorns rally for thrilling 2-1 win over Houston Dash, claim top spot in NWSL standings," 30 June 2019 Ashwin’s hidden, unexpressed grief is a reminder of many such silenced and forgotten histories of grief that haunt the nation. Chandrima Chakraborty, Quartz India, "Canada’s indifference to the 1985 Air India bombing is disturbing," 24 June 2019 Survivors, federal lawmakers and independent investigators Ropes & Gray have criticized USA Gymnastics for fostering a culture that silenced athletes and allowed predators like Nassar to thrive. Rachel Axon And Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "USA Gymnastics releases new Safe Sport policy, signals 'next step' to athlete safety," 19 June 2019

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

17 Jul 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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