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

Qubits based around a defect in a crystal—in this case, caused by the placement of silicon in an otherwise all-carbon crystal—have been around for a while. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Straining a diamond makes silicon-based qubit behave," 20 Sep. 2018 Well, a 2016 study on 2,000 women suggested that the association between ovarian cancer and talcum powder comes from talc — a mineral made up of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen, that absorbs moisture — not asbestos., "Johnson & Johnson Owes $4.69 Billion In Another Ovarian Cancer Case," 13 July 2018 Finally, silicon is not the only solar panel material. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Transparent solar cell turns edge on and generates its own light," 12 Dec. 2018 Nanoparticles produced by Sila Nanotechnologies contain silicon and other components, but not graphite. WSJ, "Corrections & Amplifications," 19 Mar. 2018 The latter was the first silicon made in a 7nm process available in a consumer device, and this is the first for a tablet. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Apple walks Ars through the iPad Pro’s A12X system on a chip," 7 Nov. 2018 Constructed using lightweight carbon fiber, the NUS quadcopter drone weighs just 2.6 kilograms (about 5.7 pounds) and has 148 silicon solar cells. Brooke Crothers, Fox News, "Solar-powered quadcopter drone takes flight," 24 Aug. 2018 Meanwhile, a new class of opaque solar cell materials, called perovskites, are closing in on silicon with top efficiencies of 22%. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, "Skyscrapers could soon generate their own power, thanks to see-through solar cells," 28 June 2018 Leproust’s goals are not unlike those of Silicon Valley pioneers who envisioned cheaper, faster, smaller computers powered by ever-shrinking silicon technology. Catherine Ho, San Francisco Chronicle, "Data storage on DNA: Where Silicon Valley meets biotech," 12 Mar. 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

11 Jan 2019

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

More from Merriam-Webster on silicon

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with silicon

Spanish Central: Translation of silicon

Nglish: Translation of silicon for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about silicon

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).


important, real, or meaningful

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Add Diction

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!