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

Others, such as Flagstaff and Tempe, ask for a moment of silence. Lorraine Longhi, azcentral, "Some push for Scottsdale to end prayer at council meetings amid legal showdown with Satanists," 10 Sep. 2019 The ceremony, held at Building 1600 in the Quad Area, will include a flyby, presentation of colors, the national anthem and a moment of silence to remember the fallen. Patrick May, The Mercury News, "Remembering 9/11: Events in California to honor 18th anniversary of terror attacks," 9 Sep. 2019 Michael Billington, in his biography of Pinter, suggests that this exchange, which eventually led the friends to a discussion of Beethoven’s use of silence, might have been one of several sources of Pinter’s own pauses. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, "Experiments with Context in “Betrayal” and “Eureka Day”," 9 Sep. 2019 After months of silence, Schnatter issued a statement last week when Papa John's CEO Steve Ritchie was let go. Grace Schneider, The Courier-Journal, "John Schnatter's $1 million gift to Simmons College raises differing opinions," 4 Sep. 2019 Official statement: A minute of silence will be held ahead of all #LaLigaSantander and #LaLigaSmartBank matches this weekend in memory of Xana, daughter of Luis Enrique. SI.com, "Robert Moreno Insists He Will Step Down as Spain Manager if Luis Enrique Wants to Return," 4 Sep. 2019 The observance will also include a moment of silence to remember the lives lost during the 9/11 attacks and honor those who continuously serve and assist us on a daily basis. Carol Kovach, cleveland.com, "Tri-C to honor first responders during 9/11 tribute: Sun Postings," 2 Sep. 2019 According to those instructions there will be 33 minutes of silence to begin the game from the Timbers Army section followed by the signing of Bella Ciao. Tim Brown, oregonlive.com, "Will Timbers Army go silent in protest of MLS ban on political signage during match against Seattle Sounders?," 23 Aug. 2019 The leader opened the meeting with the serenity prayer and a moment of silence. Sarah Klein, Health.com, "People Living With Chronic Pain Are Turning to This Support Group for Help," 16 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The study, published this week in Science Translational Medicine, points to problems with an older lab tool for silencing genes that has been used to identify leads for such drugs. Jocelyn Kaiser, Science | AAAS, "Some cancer drugs miss their target. CRISPR could improve their aim," 11 Sep. 2019 Men silencing women happens all too often across professions. Shirley Leung, BostonGlobe.com, "Lawyer held in contempt is guilty — of acting like a man," 5 Sep. 2019 Right here in the Bay Area, girls are fighting against the headwinds of a system that has for a long time silenced their voices and measured their worth based on their contributions to boys and men. Surina Khan, The Mercury News, "Opinion: What Bay Area girls need to succeed," 28 Aug. 2019 Physicians use high-dose immunosuppressive drugs to silence this immune response so that patients can tolerate a transplanted organ. Tobias Deuse, The Conversation, "Stem cells could regenerate organs – but only if the body won’t reject them," 19 Aug. 2019 Uncensored online forums can become co-opted by bigots and harassers, silencing their less powerful targets. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "How the biggest decentralized social network is dealing with its Nazi problem," 12 July 2019 Some Ethiopians worry that the subsequent mass arrests indicate that the incident is being used by the government to silence dissent, mainly in the Amhara region. Washington Post, "Ethiopia’s leader appointed spy chief as new head of army," 28 June 2019 Critics have argued that martial law was a pretense Erdogan was using to silence the opposition. Bard Wilkinson, CNN, "Turkish court sentences journalists to years in prison for 'terrorism' charges," 26 Apr. 2018 People should get out of the shooter’s view, stay quiet and silence their phones, turn off the lights, lock and block the door and try to get under a table or desk. Kulsoom Khan, chicagotribune.com, "Niles police give public tips to survive an active shooter event," 16 Sep. 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

9 Oct 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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