Definition of silence in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsʌɪləns/


[mass noun]
1Complete absence of sound: sirens pierce the silence of the night [count noun]: 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, tranquillity, noiselessness, soundlessness, peace, 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1.1The fact or state of abstaining from speech: Karen had withdrawn into sullen silence she was reduced to silence for a moment we finished our meal in silence
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, voicelessness, dumbness, muteness;
taciturnity, reticence, uncommunicativeness, unresponsiveness
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, concealment
1.3 [count noun] A short appointed period of time during which people stand still and do not speak as a sign of respect for a dead person or group of people: the game was preceded by a two-minute silence in his memory
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: she was silenced by the Inspector’s stern look the team’s performance silenced their critics
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.
quieten, quiet, hush, shush, still;
gag, muzzle, censor, stifle
stop, put an end to, put a stop to, cut short, suppress
1.1 (usually as adjective silenced) Fit (a gun or an exhaust system) 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, tone down, mask, suppress, reduce, abate;
extinguish, kill


silence is golden

proverb It’s often wise to say nothing.
Example sentences
  • Somebody told me when I was a little girl that silence is golden.
  • Perhaps it would be better considered a civil sphere - a public sphere - that needs to be cultivated at a time when dissent is so easily viewed as a threat and when, to quote the spectacular movie theater slogan, silence is golden.
  • This week's secretive populace have embraced the concept that silence is golden, so liberating information could be about as easy as extracting Excalibur from the rock.


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

Line breaks: si|lence

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