Definition of silence in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsīləns/


1Complete absence of sound: sirens pierce the silence of the night an eerie silence descended over the house
More example sentences
  • She got up slowly and walked along the hallway, and for some reason she was glad of the eerie silence and peacefulness.
  • The most underrated element in modern cinema is the sound of silence.
  • Unlocking the main door, I step in, taking off my shoes, despite the eerie silence, despite the fear caused by the absence of lights in the hall.
quietness, quiet, quietude, still, stillness, hush, tranquility, noiselessness, soundlessness, peacefulness, peace (and quiet)
1.1The fact or state of abstaining from speech: Karen had withdrawn into sullen silence she was reduced to silence for a moment
More example sentences
  • I turned and looked at the ground where Jared lay in silence but his silence was broken every few seconds with spasms of laughter.
  • They rode in silence, Cora's a happy and blissful silence, Arlan's a sulky, resentful silence.
  • They sat in silence for a moment, and this silence was uncomfortable.
speechlessness, wordlessness, dumbness, muteness, taciturnity
1.2The avoidance of mentioning or discussing something: politicians keep their silence on the big questions
More example sentences
  • Please explain as your secrecy and silence is creating a crescendo of innuendo.
  • The silence of politicians to this scandal is astounding.
  • The alternative is silence: secrecy when self-imposed, censorship when imposed by others.
secretiveness, secrecy, reticence, taciturnity, uncommunicativeness
1.3The state of standing still and not speaking as a sign of respect for someone deceased or in an opportunity for prayer: a moment of silence presided over by a local minister
More example sentences
  • A short silence in memory of the tsunami victims was observed at the start of the January meeting.
  • As we sat in the departure lounge at the airport there was a national moment of silence to honor the dead.
  • Some shops are also planning to shut down as a mark of respect, while others are considering a two-minute silence at 11.30 am.


[with object]
1Cause to become silent; prohibit or prevent from speaking: the team’s performance silenced their critics freedom of the press cannot be silenced by tanks
More example sentences
  • The 4-0 performance was also one Parsley hopes will silence the critics.
  • His answer is as refreshing as it has been, by his account, effective in silencing the critics.
  • Instead of silencing his critics, it's more likely to provide them with further ammunition.
quiet, hush, shush;
gag, muzzle, censor
stop, put an end to, put a stop to
1.1 (usually as adjective silenced) Fit (a gun or other loud mechanism) with a silencer: a silenced .22 rifle
More example sentences
  • The noise signature has been reduced with engine and exhaust silencing systems.
  • He had just silenced the gun when he was killed instantly by a burst from a machine pistol.
muffle, deaden, soften, mute, smother, dampen, damp down, mask, suppress, reduce


in silence

Without speech or other sound: we finished our meal in silence
More example sentences
  • We ate in silence except for the sound of crunching of chips and slurping of drinks.
  • He would think in silence, at meals or in bed or during a walk, sometimes jotting an idea down on a piece of paper.
  • We both sat in silence and waited for what seemed to be about an hour for him to come out.


Middle English: from Old French, from Latin silentium, from silere 'be silent'.

  • Both silence and silent (Late Middle English) came from Latin silere, ‘to be silent’. The fuller form of silence is golden is speech is silver but silence is golden. Both are recorded from the 19th century. Originally the silent majority were the dead. In the 20th century they became those who hold moderate opinions but rarely express them. Richard Nixon brought the phrase to prominence by claiming to speak for this section of society in his 1968 presidential campaign.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: si·lence

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