si·lent | \ˈsī-lənt \

Definition of silent 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : making no utterance : mute, speechless

b : indisposed to speak : not loquacious

2 : free from sound or noise : still

3 : performed or borne without utterance : unspoken silent prayer silent grief

4a : making no mention history is silent about this person

b : not widely or generally known or appreciated the silent pressures on a person in public office

c : making no protest or outcry the silent majority

5 : unpronounced the silent b in doubt

6 : not exhibiting the usual signs or symptoms of presence a silent infection

7a : made without spoken dialogue silent movies

b : of or relating to silent movies



Definition of silent (Entry 2 of 2)

: a motion picture made without spoken dialogue usually used in plural

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Other Words from silent


silently adverb
silentness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for silent


silent, taciturn, reticent, reserved, secretive mean showing restraint in speaking. silent implies a habit of saying no more than is needed. the strong, silent type taciturn implies a temperamental disinclination to speech and usually connotes unsociability. taciturn villagers reticent implies a reluctance to speak out or at length, especially about one's own affairs. was reticent about his plans reserved implies reticence and suggests the restraining influence of caution or formality in checking easy informal conversational exchange. greetings were brief, formal, and reserved secretive, too, implies reticence but usually carries a suggestion of deviousness and lack of frankness or of an often ostentatious will to conceal. the secretive research and development division

Examples of silent in a Sentence


She was silent for a few minutes as she thought about how to answer him. The crowd fell silent as the horrible news was read aloud. My father was a very silent man. He was the strong, silent type. He said he would call me, but the phone was silent all day. A long, silent pause followed her reply.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Before the election, she was paid $130,000 to stay silent in a deal handled by Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen. Andrew Welsh-hugging,, "Stormy Daniels arrested: Officers' motivations to be reviewed," 13 July 2018 But the rare triumph for human rights in China was short-lived: Her brother was forced to stay behind, ensuring Liu Xia stayed silent on the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death Friday. Washington Post, "Nobel widow’s release is short-lived human rights triumph," 13 July 2018 Before the election, she was paid $130,000 to stay silent in a deal handled by Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen. Andrew Welsh-huggins,, "Police say they made an ‘error’ in arresting Stormy Daniels," 12 July 2018 Before the election, she was paid $130,000 to stay silent in a deal handled by Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen. Author: Andrew Welch-huggins, Anchorage Daily News, "Police say they made an ‘error’ in arresting Stormy Daniels," 12 July 2018 By falling prey to it and staying silent, council would shirk its responsibility to explain to voters how corrosive the union’s demands truly are to the public’s interests. Brian Chasnoff, San Antonio Express-News, "Mayor trying to rope in council to oppose amendments," 28 June 2018 While Ivanka Trump continues to stay silent on the Trump administration's policy of separating immigrant children from their parents, Twitter has started taking her to task with a very pointed comparison. Emily Wang, Teen Vogue, "Ivanka Trump's Gown Draws Comparisons to Blankets Used by Detained Immigrant Children," 20 June 2018 The singer and model have been silent so far on social media, but the pop star's father, Jeremy seemingly confirmed the engagement on Instagram Saturday. Mitchell Peters, Billboard, "Fans React to Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin's Reported Engagement News," 8 July 2018 Jean Améry, Primo Levi, Eli Weisel—had penned riveting accounts of their experiences in the death camps; but most survivors were silent, still laboring under the oppressive weight of trauma and the world’s indifference. Leslie Camhi, Vogue, "Remembering Claude Lanzmann," 7 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

There were silent and live auctions, with items including jewelry, signed memorabilia from players like Bryce Harper, Jose Altuve, and Ken Griffey Jr., a trip to MLB All-Star week, as well as the ability to donate directly to Team Gleason. David Herder,, ""This Is Baseball's Disease": ESPN's Jon Sciambi Rallies Names Around Baseball to ALS Gala," 6 June 2018 Barca are remaining silent on the subject of Griezmann's future but it is expected that the Frenchman will complete a move to the Nou Camp this summer, leaving his current employers in desperate need of goals., "Atletico Madrid Line Up Move for West Brom Striker as Unlikely Antoine Griezmann Replacement," 26 May 2018 Against the noisiness of a (criminal) minority, Nixon posited the silent, victimized majority, a note his Administration sounded over and over. Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, "The Rise of the Victims’-Rights Movement," 14 May 2018 There were silent and live auctions, a wine tasting, dinner, an award presentation and dancing. Carol Kovach,, "Angel Gala raises $125,000 for St. Michael School in Independence, Brecksville," 29 Apr. 2018 As the silents move on to their reward, and as the boomers (the cohort of people born between 1946 and 1964) age, the boomers make up a greater portion of the 65-plus age bracket tracked by researchers who study alcohol consumption. Joel Achenbach,, "Study shows baby boomers are drinking alcohol at an alarming rate," 20 Apr. 2018 Both Dunphy and McKie have been unavailable for comment and likely will continue remaining silent until a deal is finalized. Marc Narducci,, "Negotiations ongoing over Fran Dunphy's exit from Temple, source says," 31 Mar. 2018 On the day of the walkout, hundreds of Manual students filed out of school, remaining silent for nearly 20 minutes under the gaze of TV cameras. Mandy Mclaren, The Courier-Journal, "Angry and impassioned, JCPS students headed to Washington for gun control march," 19 Mar. 2018 Whether its the use of social media including Alyssa Milano's #MeToo campaign, an interview setting or a premiere event to promote their latest project staying silent has not been an option. Brian Porreca, The Hollywood Reporter, "George Clooney on Slew of Sexual Harassment Stories: "This Is a Watershed Moment for Society"," 23 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'silent.' 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 silent


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1929, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for silent


Middle English sylent, from Latin silent-, silens, from present participle of silēre to be silent; akin to Goth anasilan to cease, grow calm

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Statistics for silent

Last Updated

17 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for silent

The first known use of silent was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for silent



English Language Learners Definition of silent

: not speaking or making noise

: tending not to talk much

: not having or making any sound or noise


si·lent | \ˈsī-lənt \

Kids Definition of silent

1 : not speaking He stood silent for a moment, and then answered.

2 : not talkative a silent person

3 : free from noise or sound : still Except for a ticking clock the house was silent.

4 : done or felt without being spoken silent reading silent prayer

5 : making no mention They were silent about their plan.

6 : not in operation silent factories

7 : not pronounced The letter e in “came” is silent.

8 : made without spoken dialogue silent movies

Other Words from silent

silently adverb


si·lent | \ˈsī-lənt \

Medical Definition of silent 

1 : not exhibiting the usual signs or symptoms of presence a silent infection silent gallstones silent tuberculosis silent ischemia

2 : yielding no detectable response to stimulation used especially of an association area of the brain silent cortex

3 : having no detectable function or effect silent DNA silent genes

Other Words from silent

silently adverb

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Legal Definition of silent 

1 : making no utterance : resolved not to speak especially about a certain topic the right to remain silent

2 : making no mention or account : omitting explanation and leaving questions unanswered a criminal statute silent as to the requirement of intent

3 : taking no active part in the conduct of a business a silent member of a firm — see also silent partner at partner

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More from Merriam-Webster on silent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for silent

Spanish Central: Translation of silent

Nglish: Translation of silent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of silent for Arabic Speakers

Comments on silent

What made you want to look up silent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

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