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 No Cape Town hotel in recent memory has been as hotly anticipated as the Silo, Thomas Heatherwick’s gleaming rebuild of a converted grain silo on the V&A Waterfront. Lila Battis, Travel + Leisure, "Top 5 Africa City Hotels," 8 July 2020 Their energy was devoted to a silo in one corner of the dig, where last year’s delegation had unearthed two potsherds bearing a script of five proto-Canaanite letters. Ruth Margalit, The New Yorker, "In Search of King David’s Lost Empire," 22 June 2020 Due to the lack of advertising dollars and the propensity of white men to network primarily amongst themselves, the craft beer industry has heavily operated in a silo. Shauna Stuart |, al, "Craft beer, hip hop, and the clout of Nappy Roots," 6 Oct. 2019 Survival Condo has 14 luxury doomsday residences inside a former Atlas missile silo in Kansas built to withstand a nuclear strike. Carolyn Said,, "Billionaire bunkers: Where the elite may ride out the coronavirus pandemic," 25 Mar. 2020 The father-of-five shared a photo to Instagram on Valentine's Day of one of the Magnolia Market silos in Waco, Texas decorated with a red spray paint etching of a giant heart with an arrow striking through. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "Chip Gaines Gives One of the Magnolia Market Silos a Romantic Makeover for Valentine's Day," 14 Feb. 2020 Darryl Williams said officers arrived and were directed to a work area of silos that process wood. Carol Robinson |, al, "Worker killed in wood chipper at southeast Alabama lumber company," 28 May 2020 The costs are placed into market segment silos (sedan, SUV, Pickup, EV) for service items like tires, brakes, oil changes, and repairs over a five-year period. Roberto Baldwin, Car and Driver, "EV vs. Gas: Which Cars Are Cheaper to Own?," 22 May 2020 In one of the closest matches, silo claimed a narrow victory over optics. Kate Cray, The Atlantic, "Something We Can All Agree On? Corporate Buzzwords Are the Worst.," 5 May 2020

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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Last Updated

13 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Silo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for silo


How to pronounce silo (audio)

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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