sil·i·con | \ˈsi-li-kən, ˈsi-lə-ˌkän\

Definition of silicon 

: a tetravalent nonmetallic element that occurs combined as the most abundant element next to oxygen in the earth's crust and is used especially in ferrosilicon for steelmaking, in other alloys, and in semiconductors — see Chemical Elements Table

Examples of silicon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The company bakes silicon and germanium at extremely high temperatures, up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, which allows them to realign atoms into a perfect diamond lattice structure. Paul Brinkmann,, "Vibration from Orlando City Stadium construction damaged high-tech business next door, lawsuit says," 31 May 2018 These include crystalline silicon and molybdenum disulfide. Charles Q. Choi, Scientific American, "Building Sails for Interstellar Probes Will Be Tough, But Not Impossible," 10 May 2018 Some analysts have suggested new silicon is needed to make smartwatches running Google’s Wear OS operating system more competitive against the market leading Apple Watch. Mike Freeman,, "New Qualcomm chip aims to power smartwatches for kids," 27 June 2018 Current infrastructure can only handle a fraction of the coming data deluge, which is expected to consume all the world's microchip-grade silicon by 2040. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "The Rise of DNA Data Storage," 26 June 2018 In addition to science experiments, the lander also carries two tiny silicon wafers engraved with the names of 2.4 million people who signed up via a public awareness campaign. Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY, "Mars lander launch to send car-sized probe to explore secrets of Red Planet," 4 May 2018 The tool enables chipmakers to imprint narrower patterns onto silicon wafers to create smaller features. Mike Rogoway,, "Intel hits a wall on Moore's Law; growth in computing power finally slows," 3 May 2018 Not only are the perovskites cheaper than silicon, they can also be tuned to absorb specific frequencies of light by tweaking their chemical recipe. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, "Skyscrapers could soon generate their own power, thanks to see-through solar cells," 28 June 2018 In still more recent years, human ingenuity unlocked additional materials, such as silicon, to create ever more sophisticated computers and telecommunications devices. Yasemin Saplakoglu, Scientific American, "Watch Live Today: Scripting the “Quantum Age” with Tools Fashioned from Subatomic Particles," 4 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'silicon.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of silicon

1817, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for silicon

New Latin silica + English -on (as in carbon)

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about silicon

Statistics for silicon

Last Updated

4 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for silicon

The first known use of silicon was in 1817

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for silicon



English Language Learners Definition of silicon

: a chemical element that is found in the Earth's crust and is used especially in computers and electronics


sil·i·con | \ˈsi-li-kən, ˈsi-lə-ˌkän\

Kids Definition of silicon

: a chemical element that next to oxygen is the most common element in the earth's crust and is used especially in electronic devices


sil·i·con | \ˈsil-i-kən, ˈsil-ə-ˌkän \

Medical Definition of silicon 

: a tetravalent nonmetallic element that occurs combined as the most abundant element next to oxygen in the earth's crust and is used especially in alloys symbol Si — see Chemical Elements Table

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on silicon

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


not any or not one

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!