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[sahy-luh nt] /ˈsaɪ lənt/
making no sound; quiet; still:
a silent motor.
refraining from speech.
speechless; mute.
not inclined to speak; taciturn; reticent.
characterized by absence of speech or sound:
a silent prayer.
unspoken; tacit:
a silent assent.
omitting mention of something, as in a narrative:
The records are silent about this crime.
inactive or quiescent, as a volcano.
not sounded or pronounced:
The “b” in “doubt” is a silent letter.
Movies. not having spoken dialogue or a soundtrack.
Medicine/Medical. producing no symptoms:
silent gallstones.
Usually, silents. silent films.
Origin of silent
1555-65; < Latin silent- (stem of silēns), present participle of silēre to be quiet; see -ent
Related forms
silently, adverb
silentness, noun
oversilent, adjective
oversilently, adverb
oversilentness, noun
supersilent, adjective
supersilently, adverb
unsilent, adjective
unsilently, adverb
1. soundless. See still1 . 8. dormant.
1. noisy. 4. talkative. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for silent
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But in real life deep emotion is silent—I have always found it so.

    Recollections David Christie Murray
  • He is silent and abstracted, like one just returned from the cave of Trophonius.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • Only the young Franciscan, silent and motionless just now at the feast, awake still.

    An Eagle Flight Jos Rizal
  • "I told him high altitudes and high livin' would do any man—" Again he was silent.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • The two men were silent for a moment, both gazing at the fire.

British Dictionary definitions for silent


characterized by an absence or near absence of noise or sound: a silent house
tending to speak very little or not at all
unable to speak
failing to speak, communicate, etc, when expected: the witness chose to remain silent
not spoken or expressed: silent assent
not active or in operation: a silent volcano
(of a letter) used in the conventional orthography of a word but no longer pronounced in that word: the ``k'' in ``know'' is silent
denoting a film that has no accompanying soundtrack, esp one made before 1927, when such soundtracks were developed
a silent film
Derived Forms
silently, adverb
silentness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin silēns, from silēre to be quiet
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for silent

c.1500, "without speech, silent, not speaking," from Latin silentem (nominative silens) "still, calm, quiet," present participle of silere "be quiet or still" (see silence (n.)). Meaning "free from noise or sound" is from 1580s.

Of letters, c.1600; of films, 1914. In the looser sense "of few words," from 1840. Phrase strong, silent (type) is attested from 1905. Silent majority in the political sense of "mass of people whose moderate views are not publicly expressed and thus overlooked" is first attested 1955 in a British context and was used by John F. Kennedy but is most associated in U.S. with the rhetoric of the Nixon administration (1969-74).

It is time for America's silent majority to stand up for its rights, and let us remember the American majority includes every minority. America's silent majority is bewildered by irrational protest. [Spiro T. Agnew, May 9, 1969]
In Victorian use, the phrase meant "the dead" (1874; cf. Roman use of the noun plural of "silent" to mean "the dead"). Silence is golden (1831) is Carlyle's translation ["Sartor Resartus"] of part of the "Swiss Inscription" Sprechen ist silbern, Schweigen ist golden.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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silent in Medicine

silent si·lent (sī'lənt)
Producing no detectable signs or symptoms. Used of certain diseases or pathological processes.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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silent in Science
  1. Relating to a mutation that changes a nucleotide in a codon without a difference in the amino acid for which it is coded. See more at point mutation.

  2. Producing no detectable signs or symptoms, as a medical condition such as heart attack.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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