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


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
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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Fenway Park observed a moment of silence prior to the first pitch to remember Celtics great Bill Russell, who died Sunday at age 88, for his extraordinary contributions to sports and society . . . Alex Speier,, 31 July 2022 Following a moment of silence at the start of the meeting, Rotering, sometimes tearfully, sometimes angrily, summed up her efforts to lobby federal officials to institute the sort of ban Highland Park itself imposed nearly a decade ago. John Keilman, Chicago Tribune, 26 July 2022 Florida passed a similar law in June 2021 that requires a moment of silence each day. Hannah Natanson, Anchorage Daily News, 26 July 2022 That story of silence is repeated across North America. Sara Miller Llana, The Christian Science Monitor, 25 July 2022 After five seconds of silence, the timer went off without a single one of the three contestants buzzing in. Anna Chan, Billboard, 22 July 2022 At Tuesday’s unveiling, spokesperson Jonathan Franks asked for a 60-second moment of silence to remember Whelan and the 17 others pictured on the wall. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, 21 July 2022 But the facts of that night were swallowed up by a code of silence, the unwritten law that presumed police officers would shield one another from accountability. New York Times, 19 July 2022 On Thursday, Tops representatives and community leaders held a prayer service and a moment of silence to honor the victims, store workers and community members affected by the shooting. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 15 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Cox has described facing harassment in an effort to silence him after the beating became public despite efforts by his colleagues to cover it up. Fox News, 13 July 2022 De La Cruz went to the child and allegedly squeezed his nose and mouth to silence him, causing his nose to bleed, the statement said. Nick Stoico,, 29 June 2022 The district's statement comes after WILL sent a letter to the district on June 17 alleging that the district's cease-and-desist letter to Schweitzer was an attempt to silence her for her complaints. Alec Johnson, Journal Sentinel, 29 June 2022 But now, Gomez says that someone is trying to silence her. Steve Helling,, 6 June 2022 But even from a distance Russian authorities moved to silence her. Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker, 16 May 2022 For example, many conservative politicians claim the algorithms silence them. Jessica Maddox, The Conversation, 3 May 2022 That man–I’m no longer with him–violently tried to silence me from speaking out against Bill Cosby. Veronica Wells, Essence, 27 Apr. 2022 In the West, the charge of antisemitism is widely used to silence Palestinian experiences and history. Doris Bittar, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 June 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of silence


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1553, 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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Dictionary Entries Near silence



silence cloth

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Statistics for silence

Last Updated

2 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Silence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for silence


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.


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



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

More from Merriam-Webster on silence

Nglish: Translation of silence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of silence for Arabic Speakers


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