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

The silence meant more than 220 dogs and 50 cats had died in the flooding, according to Telfort and Burrows. Gustavo Valdes And Pamela Boykoff, CNN, "220 dogs, 50 cats died in flooding at Bahamas animal shelter," 8 Sep. 2019 No one answered her, but Abby seemingly took the silence as a yes. Martha Sorren, Woman's Day, "Abby Lee Miller Left the 'Dance Moms' Reunion, and No One Was Surprised," 4 Sep. 2019 Wever is a marvel as Detective Duvall, a soft-spoken woman of faith who masterfully uses the silence of listening to get anyone — a survivor or a suspect — to talk. Kristen Baldwin, EW.com, "Netflix's Unbelievable is the only True Detective season 4 we need," 3 Sep. 2019 The client was able to use these tools to increase her awareness in the moment, insert herself into the silence that followed derailing comments, and maintain the flow of the discussion. Kellogg Insight, Quartz at Work, "Four ways to become a more self-aware leader," 28 Aug. 2019 Stephen Daw: Definitely the deafening silence from Taylor after Kanye handed the mic back to her, while the crowd violently booed him. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "Looking Back at the VMAs 10 Years Later: A Billboard Staff Kanye/Taylor Roundtable," 22 Aug. 2019 Judging from the wholesale silence of many people of faith in hostile quarters of American life, you could be forgiven for having your doubts. David French, National Review, "Courage Is the Cure for Political Correctness," 20 Aug. 2019 Giants Notebook Javier Lopez mostly remembers the silence. Taylor Kate Brown, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Briefing: Families mourn young people killed in Gilroy shooting," 30 July 2019 And the near-silence of electric propulsion is a perfect match for a luxury transport. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "The 2020 Cadillac XT6: Better than an Escalade in every way," 29 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The notion that certain views should be silenced is popular on the left, too. The Economist, "The global gag on free speech is tightening," 15 Aug. 2019 All other numbers will be silenced and delivered in the background. Rachel Rothman, Good Housekeeping, "How to Stop Spam Robocalls From Clogging up Your Phone," 11 June 2019 When such studies yielded inconsistent findings — some concluded that recruiting DNA to the nuclear periphery led to gene silencing, for instance, while others saw no such effect — researchers struggled to interpret them. Quanta Magazine, "In the Nucleus, Genes’ Activity Might Depend on Their Location," 6 Nov. 2018 If Thursday was any indication, women aren't going to be silenced in this political climate. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal Among Hundreds Arrested During Immigration Policy Protest," 29 June 2018 However, Biloxi's Nate Griep silenced the hometown crowd by striking out Jimenez for his eighth save on the year. Birmingham Barons, AL.com, "Jimenez, Rose Homers Not Enough In 5-4 Loss," 29 Apr. 2018 The people’s opinion can be neglected and strong arms be deployed to silence us. The Economist, "Hong Kong “is a battle for survival and for freedom”," 21 Aug. 2019 Conspiracy-minded people began to wonder whether Epstein had been murdered by accomplices to silence him. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "The Gall of Ghislaine Maxwell," 16 Aug. 2019 Chrissie Carnell Bixler, Marie Riales and two Jane Does on Wednesday filed a complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court claiming the defendants harassed them and their families in an effort to silence and intimidate them. Ashley Cullins, The Hollywood Reporter, "Danny Masterson, Church of Scientology Sued for Stalking, Conspiracy to Cover Up Sexual Assaults," 15 Aug. 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

11 Sep 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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