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

There was a moment of silence two minutes before the Pride march began, to remember those who lost their lives to AIDS and hate crimes. James Barron, New York Times, "Pride Parade: 50 Years After Stonewall, a Joyous and Resolute Celebration," 30 June 2019 And a minute of silence was observed before the show began. Eric Todisco, PEOPLE.com, "Cara Delevingne, Helen Mirren and More Perform at Karl Lagerfeld Memorial Tribute Event," 20 June 2019 There’s a moment of silence as everyone recognizes Hannah’s hurt. Joyce Chen, refinery29.com, "The Bachelorette Season 15, Week 6 Recap: It's A Trap!," 20 June 2019 Lucy Duncan, an official with the American Friends Service Committee, asked protesters for a moment of silence to remember children who have died in federal custody, though not at the Homestead facility. sun-sentinel.com, "Advocates protest outside Homestead detention center for kids," 16 June 2019 In addition to its successful campaign of silence, the party has spent a great deal of effort rewriting the history of that period to its advantage. Helen Raleigh, National Review, "Thirty Years after Tiananmen, China Is Still Unwilling to Tell the Truth," 4 June 2019 That brought back a question that has confronted Alaska for decades but is now being asked aloud: Did a culture of silence protect him? Michelle Theriault Boots, ProPublica, "“No More Silence”: Her Kidnapping, Sexual Assault and Murder Stunned a Town, and Started a Movement," 4 June 2019 Benedictine monks had used them to convey messages during their daily periods of silence. National Geographic, "How monks helped invent sign language," 28 May 2019 The colonization of silence has been going on for years. Christine Rosen, WSJ, "‘Silence’ Review: The Rest Is Noise," 25 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Anyone who has clocked a few hours driving through the bush knows how overbearing the sound (and smell) of a diesel motor can be—and the calm that descends the moment that engine is silenced. Lee Middleton, Quartz Africa, "Luxury safaris are trying to reinvent by getting greener and curbing an “Out of Africa” culture," 14 June 2019 And unlike several other African leaders, Mr Buhari has never tried to shut down the internet to silence critics. The Economist, "An attack on free speech in Nigeria," 14 June 2019 Sabina Magliocco, an anthropologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, says the growing interest in magic and witchcraft is a natural response to a cultural moment in which many people feel marginalized and silenced. Deborah Netburn, latimes.com, "The working witches of Los Angeles just want you to be your best self," 11 June 2019 Verizon Call Filter: An app that blocks and silences unwanted calls for Verizon customers based on risk level. Rachel Rothman, Good Housekeeping, "How to Stop Spam Robocalls From Clogging up Your Phone," 11 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

3 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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