\ ˈsilt \

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 up the 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 \ adjective


siltation \ sil-​ˈtā-​shən \ noun

Examples of silt in a Sentence


The entrance to the creek had silted shut.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Intensely fertile, the region is defined by its dunelike hills, formed eons ago by windblown silt. Matthew Kronsberg, WSJ, "A Getaway to the ‘Tuscany of America’," 27 July 2018 The 385 acre-property sustained between 6 to 8 feet of water in August and previously been affected by the Tax Day Flood of 2016 and Memorial Day Flood of 2015, leading to erosion and silt on its grounds. Mayra Cruz, Houston Chronicle, "Mercer Botanic Gardens set to teach families about plants with children’s garden," 31 May 2018 Gore says the second pond at the site has additional protection from the rising river, provided by an AquaDam, silt fencing and floating environmental containment boom that was placed during the past week. Fox News, "The Latest: NC watching coal ash sites swamped by floods," 22 Sep. 2018 But CityLab has reported on islands that are actually being created as well — including artificial islands meant to trap silt and provide a sanctuary for birds, and an archipelago of islands that provide extra housing space in Amsterdam. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "Darren Aronofsky’s Pi day: this week in tech, 20 years ago," 14 July 2018 The Mary Rose, and many members of her crew, spent the next 437 years getting buried under several meters of silt at the bottom of the Solent, the strait north of the Isle of Wight. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Tiny magnets will escort ions out of rare material from a shipwreck," 24 Aug. 2018 This geologic formation contains rocks made of mostly sand, silt and clays that were deposited when eastern Maryland was a flat coastal plain, in the early Cretaceous. Sarah Kaplan, Washington Post, "Fossil hunting 101: Lessons from a self-taught dinosaur tracker," 16 June 2018 Dams and rocks placed along the Mississippi River to prevent erosion of the banks have robbed the river of the sand, silt and clay that once built the Mississippi River Delta. Sara Sneath,, "Plastic bottles you recycle at Jazz Fest won't curb coastal erosion, contractor says," 27 Apr. 2018 The Bangladeshi government is making plans to relocate 100,000 refugees to a low-lying, uninhabited silt island by August. Vidhi Doshi, Washington Post, "‘Everything was destroyed’: Monsoon begins to take deadly toll on Rohingya camps in Bangladesh," 24 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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," 2 May 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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Dictionary Entries near silt






silt loam

silt soil

Statistics for silt

Last Updated

15 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for silt

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

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More Definitions for silt



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 \

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with silt

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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

Comments on silt

What made you want to look up silt? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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