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 dusty road leads straight to the grain silo, where farmers in nearly identical overalls and plaid shirts wait next to a small shop selling tubs of agrochemicals and piles of seed bags. Nina Strochlic, National Geographic, "An unlikely feud between beekeepers and Mennonites simmers in Mexico," 12 Apr. 2019 As a result, the company consolidated its retail-banking auditing team under a centralized group in an effort to break down silos and have a broader view of risk across the business, according to a company spokesman. Kristin Broughton, WSJ, "Wells Fargo Breaks Down Internal Audit Silos to Fend Off Scandals," 1 Feb. 2019 Russia maintains that the silos can technically launch Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Russia Defends New Cruise Missile, Says It Doesn't Violate Any Arms-Control Treaties," 24 Jan. 2019 The silo even features a beautiful outdoor shower amid the lush greenery (now that's our kind of morning wake-up call!). Samantha Brodsky, Country Living, "These Newlyweds Live In a 366-Square-Foot Grain Silo," 8 Aug. 2016 Launching nukes isn’t as easy as finding a silo and pressing a button; there are changing codes distributed in pieces throughout the area. Sarah Leboeuf, Ars Technica, "Two weeks in, Fallout 76 is a lonely, glitchy, flawed mess," 28 Nov. 2018 The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town, seen here ahead of its September 2017 opening, occupies a complex of 42 former grain silos. Lynn Freehill-maye, WSJ, "Grain Silos: From Empty Relics to Cultural Landmarks and Luxury Hotels," 29 Aug. 2018 And the full-on action sequences, staged with stalking tension in settings as diverse as a grain silo and a bathtub, are nervily potent. Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times, "Review: In John Krasinski’s ‘A Quiet Place,’ Silence Means Survival," 4 Apr. 2018 Venezuela’s 1,000 or so flag officers operate in silos and are spied on by minders. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Cuba Out of Venezuela," 24 Jan. 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

16 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for silo

The first known use of silo was in 1856

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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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