latent

adjective
la·​tent | \ ˈlā-tᵊnt How to pronounce latent (audio) \

Definition of latent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: present and capable of emerging or developing but not now visible, obvious, active, or symptomatic a latent infection

latent

noun
la·​tent | \ ˈlā-tᵊnt How to pronounce latent (audio) \

Definition of latent (Entry 2 of 2)

: a fingerprint (as at the scene of a crime) that is scarcely visible but can be developed for study

called also latent fingerprint, latent print

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Other Words from latent

Adjective

latently adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for latent

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for latent

Adjective

latent, dormant, quiescent, potential mean not now showing signs of activity or existence. latent applies to a power or quality that has not yet come forth but may emerge and develop. a latent desire for success dormant suggests the inactivity of something (such as a feeling or power) as though sleeping. their passion had lain dormant quiescent suggests a usually temporary cessation of activity. the disease was quiescent potential applies to what does not yet have existence or effect but is likely soon to have. a potential disaster

Examples of latent in a Sentence

Adjective On the ground in Afghanistan there is some latent, if wary, gratitude for American aid over the years, but no one expects to build a foundation for the Taliban's downfall on a couple of million rice cakes. — Michael Duffy, Time, 15 Oct. 2001 There were such inexhaustible possibilities still before her, such opportunities to bring out the latent graces of the old place, without a single irreverent touch of alteration, that the winter months were all too short to plan what spring and autumn executed. — Edith Wharton, Afterward, 1910 Calm, gentle, passionless, as he appeared, there was yet, we fear, a quiet depth of malice, hitherto latent, but active now, in this unfortunate old man, which led him to imagine a more intimate revenge than any mortal had ever wreaked upon an enemy. — Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, 1850 he has a latent talent for acting that he hasn't had a chance to express yet
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective This is probably latent freeze damage from last February. Neil Sperry, San Antonio Express-News, 1 Oct. 2021 Parents and grandparents constitute a massive if latent political force (over 63 million American parents have a minor living under their roof). Elliot Haspel, The New Republic, 26 Aug. 2021 The latent conflict between his show business lifestyle and his ingrained religious beliefs came to a head during a 1957 tour of Australia. Richard Cromelin, Los Angeles Times, 9 May 2020 The isolation imposed by the coronavirus has awakened a latent homesteading spirit within many of us. Emily Heil, Houston Chronicle, 23 Apr. 2020 When Emil shocks everyone by discovering his own latent powers, Brighton hates the idea of suddenly being unremarkable and left behind. Karen Valby, New York Times, 4 Feb. 2020 Participants include 399 men with latent syphilis and 201 who don’t have the disease. Detroit Free Press, 20 Apr. 2020 Border concerns Another more latent challenge, and one of the biggest sources of criticism for López Obrador's handling of the coronavirus, is the situation and level of exposure along the U.S.-Mexico border. Rafael Carranza, azcentral, 4 Apr. 2020 Japan is considering building anti-satellite weapons but also uses the same radar and missile system involved in Operation Burnt Frost, giving it a latent ASAT capability. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 1 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But was this really Chase chasing cinema, or discovering and capitalizing on latent, intrinsically televisual storytelling possibilities that were there all along? Los Angeles Times, 5 Oct. 2021 And as for its nuclear program, Iran is now accurately considered a latent nuclear power, assessed to be only months away from a weapon. Robert Joseph, National Review, 3 Oct. 2021 That latent viruses are reactivated by a Covid-19 infection isn’t surprising, says Dr. Henrich. Sumathi Reddy, WSJ, 13 July 2021 Piscatelli: Rescu is solving latent and slow emergency response times due to lack of information and inefficient communication. Mary Juetten, Forbes, 9 Sep. 2021 The timing to reach pre-COVID levels may take years with the threat of new variants, varying levels of vaccination, and latent exposure anxiety. Phillip Molnar, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Sep. 2021 Those towns were also zones of contradiction and latent conflict. New York Times, 30 Aug. 2021 The only problem that doesn’t seem to require Ji-Yoon’s constant attention right now is Ju Ju, who brings out Bill’s latent competence. Amanda Whiting, Vulture, 20 Aug. 2021 Accompanied by vocalist-percussionist Dunia Best and bassist-guitarist Aram Sinnreich, Goldman sang over spartan dub bass lines in a high, clear voice that brought all of punk’s latent optimism directly to the surface. Washington Post, 20 Aug. 2021

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

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun

1920, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for latent

Adjective and Noun

Middle English, from Latin latent-, latens, from present participle of latēre to lie hidden; akin to Greek lanthanein to escape notice

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Time Traveler for latent

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near latent

latensify

latent

latent bud

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Statistics for latent

Last Updated

3 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Latent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/latent. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for latent

latent

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of latent

used to describe something (such as a disease) that exists but is not active or cannot be seen

latent

adjective
la·​tent | \ ˈlā-tᵊnt How to pronounce latent (audio) \

Kids Definition of latent

: present but not visible or active a latent infection

latent

adjective
la·​tent | \ ˈlāt-ᵊnt How to pronounce latent (audio) \

Medical Definition of latent

: existing in hidden or dormant form: as
a : present or capable of living or developing in a host without producing visible symptoms of disease a latent virus a latent infection
b : not consciously expressed latent anxiety
c : relating to or being the latent content of a dream or thought

Other Words from latent

latently adverb

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latent

adjective
la·​tent | \ ˈlāt-ᵊnt How to pronounce latent (audio) \

Legal Definition of latent

: existing in hidden or dormant form but usually capable of being brought to light — compare patent

More from Merriam-Webster on latent

Nglish: Translation of latent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of latent for Arabic Speakers

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