si·​lo | \ ˈsī-(ˌ)lō How to pronounce silo (audio) \
plural silos

Definition of silo

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a trench, pit, or especially a tall cylinder (as of wood or concrete) usually sealed to exclude air and used for making and storing silage
2a : a deep bin for storing material (such as coal)
b : an underground structure for housing a guided missile These are weapons that can hit military targets, such as missile silos and headquarters, swiftly and accurately …— Leslie H. Gelb
3 : an isolated grouping, department, etc., that functions apart from others especially in a way seen as hindering communication and cooperation Big, complex companies are typically structured so that decision making is separated according to function, geography and product. That naturally creates silos.— John H. Howard Examples of silos in blue-chip firms abound: Sony once had two separate divisions working on creating the same electrical plug without anyone realizing it.— Rana Foroohar To break down silos individual officials need a stronger sense of belonging to a bigger whole, with norms and expectations spanning all departments and agencies.— David Walker Moorhouse came to the paper determined to break down its "silos"—MBA-speak for self-contained departments that don't have anything to do with other departments in a business.— Mark Fitzgerald


siloed; siloing; siloes

Definition of silo (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to place or store (material, such as grain) in a silo
2 : to isolate (someone or something, such as a grouping or department) in a way that hinders communication and cooperation with others : to place (someone or something) in an isolated silo (see silo entry 1 sense 3) One step banks can take to balance efforts, [Emmett] Higdon suggested, is to stop siloing mobile and online banking development efforts and channels.— Nathan DiCamillo

Illustration of silo

Illustration of silo


silo 1

In the meaning defined above

Examples of silo in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The researchers—and their companies—hope that public demonstrations like this will wake large companies up, break down the silos, and ultimately make end-user accounts less vulnerable to hacking. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "Security firms demonstrate subdomain hijack exploit vs. EA/Origin," 26 June 2019 Once a decision is made, a special command center in the Pentagon issues orders that go directly to missile silos, aircraft or submarines that can launch nuclear missiles. Jim Michaels, USA TODAY, "No, Trump doesn't have a button to launch nuclear weapons. But, he does have a 'football'," 3 Jan. 2018 They are concerned with themselves, and everyone in that silo called Clemson, South Carolina, gets so upset. Mark Heim |,, "Paul Finebaum on Trevor Lawrence’s ‘unprofessional’ jab, says no doubt Alabama will beat Clemson," 23 July 2019 The foxhole and nearby house were gone, but the bullet-riddled silo was still there on what was now a melon farm. Elizabeth Marie Himchak, Pomerado News, "Rancho Bernardo centenarian experienced many adventures," 27 June 2019 They are buried by the hundreds in underground concrete silos scattered across America. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Does America Still Need the Nuclear Triad?," 23 Jan. 2019 The three-stage weapon launches from an underground silo on North Base en route to a predetermined target in the central Pacific Ocean near the Kwajalein Atoll. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: Japan chasing SpaceX, missile-test failure, Russian trolling," 3 Aug. 2018 The idea of the law was to reduce silos and increase sharing among government agencies. Scott Travis,, "Florida wants to amass reams of data on students’ lives," 9 July 2019 Fort Mose can also inspire contemporary multi-racial alliances that stand to learn from the creators of this abolitionist silo on the North Florida coast. Imani J. Jackson, Essence, "U.N. Recognizes Fort Mose, Free Black Town Established 127 Years Before Juneteenth," 19 June 2019

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


1856, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1981, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for silo



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Statistics for silo

Last Updated

11 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for silo

The first known use of silo was in 1856

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More Definitions for silo



English Language Learners Definition of silo

: a tower that is used to store food (such as grain or grass) for farm animals
: an underground structure that is used for storing and firing a missile


si·​lo | \ ˈsī-lō How to pronounce silo (audio) \
plural silos

Kids Definition of silo

: a covered trench, pit, or especially a tall round building in which silage is made and stored

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More from Merriam-Webster on silo

Spanish Central: Translation of silo

Nglish: Translation of silo for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of silo for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about silo

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a period when something is suspended

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