\ ˈsilt How to pronounce silt (audio) \

Definition of silt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : loose sedimentary material with rock particles usually ¹/₂₀ millimeter or less in diameter also : soil containing 80 percent or more of such silt and less than 12 percent of clay
2 : a deposit of sediment (as by a river)


silted; silting; silts

Definition of silt (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to become choked or obstructed with silt often used with upthe channel silted up

transitive verb

: to choke, fill, cover, or obstruct with silt or mud

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Other Words from silt


silty \ ˈsil-​tē How to pronounce silty (audio) \ adjective


siltation \ sil-​ˈtā-​shən How to pronounce siltation (audio) \ noun

Examples of silt in a Sentence

Verb The entrance to the creek had silted shut.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Chiba cliffs, located near the city of Ichihara southeast of Tokyo, are home to a sedimentary deposit called the Kazusa Group, which is nearly two miles of rock layers made of compressed silt and clay that were once under the ocean. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "The ‘Chibanian Age’ Is the First Geologic Period Named After a Site in Japan," 20 Feb. 2020 The Kingwood Service Association is awaiting approval on a permit application to the city of Houston to dredge sand and silt dropped during Hurricane Harvey from the bank of River Grove Park. Savannah Mehrtens, Houston Chronicle, "KSA plans $500K dredging operation in River Grove Park," 9 Jan. 2020 At that time, the farmers would dredge silt that accumulated in Butano Creek below Pescadero Bridge to prevent the channel from filling up and spilling over. Peter Fimrite,, "Restoring a San Mateo County creek to keep new generations of fish thriving," 5 Nov. 2019 Its gills are sensitive to silt in the water and sand can fill in the burrows and rock ledges that are the waterdog’s preferred habitat. Dennis Pillion |, al, "Black Warrior waterdog warns of degraded waterways in Alabama," 25 Oct. 2019 Svalbard is 23,560 square miles of high craggy mountains and icy glaciers that roll over silt and crevasses to calve into the sea., "In Norway, so much beauty — 24 hours a day — and fear of its demise - The Boston Globe," 26 Sep. 2019 Last year, Joynal left his family’s semi-permanent dwelling on a remote sand bar in the Brahmaputra River, one of many that form and re-form as silt washes down from the Himalayas, to go cut wood. Joseph Allchin, The New York Review of Books, "Why Hindu Nationalists Trialed India’s Citizenship Law in Assam," 6 Jan. 2020 Nebraska Brownville: Federal inspectors plan to review how well a nuclear power plant handled a water service safety problem blamed on a silt buildup from the Missouri River, which overwhelmed or broke through levees last spring. USA TODAY, "Butter Gritty, radish stink, goatnapping: News from around our 50 states," 3 Jan. 2020 The rocks fall to the ground in a big pile, and silt settles in riffles on the sloping ramp of the sluice. Nell Zink, Harper's magazine, "The Bird Angle," 28 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Then there is the fact that the Bridgeport Harbor hasn’t been dredged since 1964 and some of its channels have silted in. WSJ, "Connecticut’s Largest City Sees Future in Harnessing Wind Energy," 2 Feb. 2020 But in the 1860s, gold mining and timbering had begun to silt up the high mountain spawning beds, covering and suffocating their eggs. Patrick Symmes, Harper's magazine, "The $68,000 Fish," 28 Oct. 2019 But neither removes the desert of sand that still silts up the wheels of Indian commerce. The Economist, "India Inc is growing disenchanted with Narendra Modi," 17 Aug. 2019 Meanwhile, Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers said crews have de-silted the channel at the north end of the county except for the portion on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) property. Karen Zurawski, Houston Chronicle, "Officials look for solutions to flooding in Katy, greater Houston area," 9 Apr. 2018 And once that soil was gone, it was gone for good, silting up the seabed and exposing the old bony rock beneath Europe’s soft topside. Bella Bathurst, Newsweek, "Kill the Plough, Save Our Soils," 29 May 2014 Elsewhere in the state, a smattering of farmers are trying other techniques for capturing nitrate—collecting it in engineered wetlands on their soggier fields, for example, or in silted-in oxbow river bends excavated to hold more water. National Geographic, "The Simple River-Cleaning Tactics That Big Farms Ignore," 7 Dec. 2017 Soon, piers and warehouses were abandoned, General Electric was poisoning the Hudson with PCBs and the East River had silted up and become a de facto dump, with rusted cars clustering around the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. Gina Levay, Smithsonian, "How New York City Is Rediscovering Its Maritime Spirit," 29 May 2017 In the end, the studies showed that changes in the tide dynamics would be detrimental to the environment — and that the barrages would silt up very quickly. Nancy Lord, Alaska Dispatch News, "Fascinating book on tides includes Alaska," 12 Aug. 2017

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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1799, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for silt


Middle English cylte, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Norwegian dialect sylt beach flooded at high tide; akin to Old High German sulza salt marsh, Old English sealt salt

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Time Traveler for silt

Time Traveler

The first known use of silt was in the 15th century

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Statistics for silt

Last Updated

26 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Silt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for silt


How to pronounce silt (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of silt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: sand, soil, mud, etc., that is carried by flowing water and that sinks to the bottom of a river, pond, etc.



English Language Learners Definition of silt (Entry 2 of 2)

: to become blocked, filled, or covered with silt
: to block, fill, or cover (something) with silt


\ ˈsilt How to pronounce silt (audio) \

Kids Definition of silt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : particles of small size left as sediment from water
2 : a soil made up mostly of silt and containing little clay


silted; silting

Kids Definition of silt (Entry 2 of 2)

: to fill, cover, or block with silt

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More from Merriam-Webster on silt

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for silt

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with silt

Spanish Central: Translation of silt

Nglish: Translation of silt for Spanish Speakers

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

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