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 class is designed to teach the skills necessary to rescue an individual who has become partially or completely engulfed in grain within a bin or silo. Arkansas Online, 19 July 2021 Then lockdowns sent screen-time limits out the door, and children gorged on the cartoon in a silo away from their usual social interactions, amplifying the effect. Meghan Bobrowsky, WSJ, 18 July 2021 By June, the missile silo locations were clearly marked, and structures are now visible across what was previously a trackless expanse. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 8 July 2021 If so, pack yourself a bug-out kit and invest in a disused bomb silo. Jazz Shaw, National Review, 26 June 2021 Indians from different religious backgrounds are most comfortable within a silo of people who share the same faith. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, 29 June 2021 Within his silo, the pandemic did not change as much because APG and its staff could not afford to let it. James Whitlow,, 11 June 2021 Each one signifies a component of life, but none of these subsections exist within a silo: The Twelve Houses also operate as a single unit, a collective that comprises the entire 360-degree wheel. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, 8 June 2021 Managing teams in different geographical locations was once an impossible feat with limited communication and a sense that each location was operating in a silo. Ofir Paldi, Forbes, 14 June 2021

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.

See More

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



Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About silo

Dictionary Entries Near silo

silly season



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for silo

Last Updated

26 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Silo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jul. 2021.

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

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!