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

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 Jen says that sitting in silence can be more comforting than forced optimism or sharing stories of other patients. Kate Rockwood, Good Housekeeping, "After a Metastatic Breast Cancer Diagnosis, One Mom Is Encouraging Others to Ask the Right Questions," 15 Aug. 2018 But these women, having learned to suffer in silence, approach revenge more stoically. Eliana Dockterman, Time, "Female Rage on Television Reaches a Boiling Point in Dietland," 31 May 2018 Being stunned into silence will not prevent the situation from happening again. Marie G. Mcintyre, The Seattle Times, "2 options for handling mansplaining at work," 28 Nov. 2018 That night, the performance ended, and the audience sat in what felt like a long, extended silence, until a young male voice yelled the same line from the back of the house. Amanda Mitchell, Marie Claire, "'Rent' Composer Jonathan Larson's Legacy Lives On," 25 Jan. 2019 For a women who demanded silence and austerity in her house, no doubt the cacophony of her nine children and 42 grandchildren was at times overwhelming. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "What Was Queen Victoria Like as a Mother?," 13 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Do not aim to speak for them or, worse, to silence them. Greg Cote, miamiherald, "Let voters decide! Why Beckham group's soccer stadium plan deserves to be on ballot," 9 July 2018 McDougal said in a lawsuit that Cohen helped arrange to silence her during the presidential campaign. Frances Stead Sellers, latimes.com, "Lawsuit seeks records of Trump's Beverly Hills Hotel bungalow stays," 19 June 2018 Collectively, women can continue to demand that employers and companies can’t silence them for their experiences. Trisha Thadani, San Francisco Chronicle, "Supreme Court ruling could slow #MeToo movement," 21 May 2018 And much of his bond with hard-core conservatives involves a shared persecution complex involving sneering elitist liberals who despise their values and want to disenfranchise or even silence them. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Republicans Are Trying to Use Impeachment to Scare Their Base to the Polls," 12 Apr. 2018 To escape these truths, silencing has very often been the answer. Rachel Elizabeth Cargle, Harper's BAZAAR, "When White People Are Uncomfortable, Black People Are Silenced," 9 Jan. 2019 Khashoggi’s death has derailed the powerful prince’s campaign to project a modern image of the ultraconservative country, instead highlighting the brutal lengths to which some top officials in the government have gone to silence its critics. Aya Batrawy, The Seattle Times, "Saudi Arabia again changes its story on Khashoggi killing," 25 Oct. 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

13 Mar 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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