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


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

Synonyms: Verb

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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 The demonstration began with about 30 gathering for a moment of silence for those killed by law enforcement. Rusty Simmons,, "George Floyd protests continue around Bay Area for fourth weekend," 21 June 2020 The group participated in a moment of silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds that paid tribute to nursing home residents and employees who have lost their lives, as well as George Floyd. Elisha Anderson, Detroit Free Press, "1,900 flags memorialize nursing home residents, workers who died from coronavirus," 19 June 2020 Other companies — such as Ford Motor and General Motors — are encouraging employees to honor moments of silence. Madeleine Carlisle, Time, "Millions of Americans Observe Juneteenth as Protests Against Racism and Police Brutality Continue," 19 June 2020 Will a moment of silence before every kickoff suffice? Christine Brennan, USA TODAY, "Opinion: It's hard to see NFL, college football being played as usual this fall," 18 June 2020 The barbecue will have speakers, musical performances, voter registration, games and activities for children as well as a vigil and moment of silence for people who have died. Briana Rice,, "'All people should celebrate Juneteenth': How Cincinnatians are celebrating the holiday," 18 June 2020 The European Parliament began with a moment of silence for Floyd before opening the floor to members to discuss their own experiences with police brutality. Stephen Collinson With Caitlin Hu, CNN, "America's coronavirus plateau, and the global reverberations of George Floyd's death," 18 June 2020 General Motors plans to hold moments of silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd's neck. Grace Oldham, azcentral, "These Arizona businesses will observe Juneteenth as a company holiday. Here's what you need to know.," 18 June 2020 The code of silence among police officers that allows bad cops to remain and go undetected must end. Indianapolis Star, The Indianapolis Star, "What prominent community members say should be done to make Indiana better for everyone," 17 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Conservatives should speak out against progressive attempts to silence conservative voices. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Mike Lee rebuts Tucker Carlson claim that he is cozy with Big Tech companies," 19 June 2020 Dangerous demagogues use ad baculum to change the subject of debate and use force to silence legitimate opposition. Jennifer Mercieca, The Conversation, "A field guide to Trump’s dangerous rhetoric," 19 June 2020 Rappler and Ressa have faced numerous government investigations and court battles that press freedom advocates have blasted as judicial harassment and an attempt to silence independent media. Laignee Barron, Time, "Philippines Journalist Maria Ressa Convicted of Cyber Libel," 15 June 2020 Getting out of the cars to almost silence is just a really odd feeling. ... Mark Heim |, al, "How to watch NASCAR’s Dixie Vodka 400 (6/14) live stream: TV, time, lineup for Homestead," 14 June 2020 Opponents of the law warned the government could use it to silence influential critics like Ressa, who led Rappler’s award-winning team to provide some of the fiercest coverage of the country under the administration of president Rodrigo Duterte. Tripti Lahiri, Quartz, "The Philippines used a typo to go after journalist Maria Ressa for libel," 14 June 2020 Shutting down environmental reviews can also silence the public. Ula Chrobak, Popular Science, "Trump’s latest executive order could let industry shirk environmental responsibility," 9 June 2020 And without mentioning Trump by name, denounced those who would try to silence them. William Cummings, USA TODAY, "Colin Powell says Trump rhetoric 'dangerous for our democracy,' will vote for Biden," 7 June 2020 In recent days, lawyers representing the Phoenix police officers filed court documents asking a federal judge to silence the lawyers representing Muhaymin's sister. Uriel J. Garcia, azcentral, "Phoenix has its own 'I can't breathe' case. The outcome was far different," 5 June 2020

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


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for silence


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

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Time Traveler for silence

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for silence

Last Updated

26 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Silence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for silence


How to pronounce silence (audio)

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



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


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


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.
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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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

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