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 Economists tend to look at things in a silo, Holman said, while a soccer fan would be able to see the whole pitch. Brian Amaral,, 26 July 2022 Shrapnel eviscerated the roof of a grain silo the size of a football field. Dalton Bennett, Washington Post, 19 July 2022 Businesses can ameliorate this situation by consolidating data into a single silo, facilitating access to the data to inform marketers’ campaigns. Gary Drenik, Forbes, 3 May 2022 The explosion at the CSX coal silo that rocked Curtis Bay last December was caused by a buildup of methane gas inside a tunnel, representatives of CSX told Baltimore City Council at a hearing Wednesday. Cassidy Jensen, Baltimore Sun, 25 Aug. 2022 Three years later, he was arrested after cutting through a fence around a Minuteman silo near Greeley, Colo., and displaying antiwar banners. Ed Shanahan, New York Times, 17 Aug. 2022 Each document is essentially a miniature data silo, and the data must be unlocked. Martha Amram, Forbes, 6 July 2022 This campsite is literally on the grounds of a 186-foot-deep missile silo and includes an underground tour. Emily Pennington, Outside Online, 19 May 2021 The stone Bank Barn, built in 1801, was entirely renovated into a modern home in 1990 with the original silo converted into four stories of living space. Kellie Speed, Forbes, 11 July 2022 See More

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.

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



Learn More About silo

Dictionary Entries Near silo

silly season



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for silo

Last Updated

24 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Silo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for silo


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

More from Merriam-Webster on silo

Nglish: Translation of silo for Spanish Speakers

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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