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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 silently
  • Burglars don't make too much noise by breaking windows anymore, they simply pull on door handles and enter silently.
  • He reacts silently to each new revelation rather than spinning out glib one-liners, and he lets his pain show.
  • The king stood up, holding the cup in his hands, and all in the hall waited silently.
  • It can get closer to its target, move to new locations faster and hover almost silently above a property or outside a window.
  • When losses occur participants are left to stew silently.
  • Back in the desert, a pilotless aircraft has been cruising silently for many hours, thousands of metres above the ground.
  • Its biggest reform, though, may be one taking place silently and without high-profile legislation: a clampdown on tax evasion.
  • silently, they prostrate themselves before the abbot, while he scribbles down their new monastic names.
  • But look closer and you find that ordinary people have always silently played a role.
  • They silently rise from the table and proceed outside.
British Dictionary definitions for silently


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 silently

1560s, from silent (adj.) + -ly (2).



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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silently 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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silently 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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