Definition of silent in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsīlənt/


1Not making or accompanied by any sound: the woods were still and silent
More example sentences
  • The room was completely silent other than the sound of dripping water from a corner of the room.
  • The valley that had been echoing with battle cries, shouted orders and loud curses fell strangely silent.
  • The silent auction of 39 works raised more than $50,000 of the total.
1.1(Of a person) not speaking: she fell silent for a moment
More example sentences
  • She was too preoccupied with remaining insistently silent and had her mind set on the letter she was drafting to John.
  • Elected officials, he lectured, should not speak unthinkingly, but rather, when doubts exist, keep silent.
  • You cannot fight fire with fire, was the implicit message of the silent crowds.
1.2Not expressed aloud: a silent prayer
More example sentences
  • She knew that this wasn't the safest thing in the world to do, but after saying a quick, silent prayer, she felt much more relaxed and safe.
  • It was a day when silent thoughts spoke loudly and tears told their own sad story.
  • Fann's 5th-grade child has often written down Chou's name in silent reminiscence.
unspoken, wordless, unsaid, unexpressed, unvoiced, tacit, implicit, understood
1.3(Of a letter) written but not pronounced, e.g., b in doubt.
Example sentences
  • How do you spell a long word with silent letters?
  • Children and learners of the language are confused by the number of silent letters in Gaelic, especially those which are in the middle of words and which have no good reason to be there.
  • This means they spell words the way that they sound, missing out silent letters and not following spelling rules.
1.4(Of a movie) without an accompanying soundtrack.
Example sentences
  • This is a silent feature film starring Jackie Coogan, costar of Chaplin's 1921 masterpiece The Kid.
  • If you're at all interested in silent films or Greta Garbo, buy this collection.
  • Are there any other superhero creators that take their inspiration from French silent film star/director Max Linder?
1.5Saying or recording nothing on a particular subject: the poems are silent on the question of marriage
More example sentences
  • But despite more prodding from them, Eve remained silent on the subject.
  • When we are silent in the face of accusation, the public sees us as guilty.
  • The governor simply required that he leave the country, and with that the record falls silent.
1.6(Of a person) not prone to speak much; taciturn: I’m the strong, silent type
More example sentences
  • I never once heard my uncle, a shy, silent man, speak of the manner in which his wife had died.
  • She couldn't believe that the ever silent Rebecca had actually spoken to her.
  • Additionally, there's that old saying that when a silent man speaks, wise men listen.



(as) silent as the grave

see grave1.

the silent majority

The majority of people, regarded as holding moderate opinions but rarely expressing them.
Example sentences
  • We've been called the silent majority but the key word here is majority.
  • ‘This is a most regrettable decision and accepting the fact they have put the document out to publication, they have chosen to ignore the silent majority of patients,’ he said.
  • Fleming laments that existing surveys and studies have documented something about the vocal minority, but almost nothing about the silent majority.

the silent treatment

A stubborn refusal to talk to someone, especially after a recent argument or disagreement.
Example sentences
  • Try something like, ‘I've noticed you give Jen the silent treatment when she comes over.’
  • As I write, he's giving me the silent treatment.
  • Tell someone why you're angry instead of giving them the silent treatment.


Late 15th century (in the sense 'not speaking'): from Latin silent- 'being silent', from the verb silere.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: si·lent

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