from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Present or potential but not evident or active: latent talent.
  • adj. Pathology In a dormant or hidden stage: a latent infection.
  • adj. Biology Undeveloped but capable of normal growth under the proper conditions: a latent bud.
  • adj. Psychology Present and accessible in the unconscious mind but not consciously expressed.
  • n. A fingerprint that is not apparent to the eye but can be made sufficiently visible, as by dusting or fuming, for use in identification.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Existing or present but concealed or inactive.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Not visible or apparent; hidden; concealed; secret; dormant.
  • adj. Existing but not presenting symptoms; dormant or developing; -- of disease, especially infectious diseases.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Hidden; concealed; not visible or apparent; not manifested: as, latent motives; latent germs of disease.
  • In botany, dormant or undeveloped: said of buds which are not externally manifest until stimulated to growth.
  • Synonyms Covert, Occult, etc. See secret.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. potentially existing but not presently evident or realized
  • adj. (pathology) not presently active


Middle English, from Old French, from Latin latēns, latent-, present participle of latēre, to lie hidden.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin latens, latentis, present participle of lateo ("lie hidden"). (Wiktionary)


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  • Nature livens to the latent animal, concedes you contain a divine fragment of the pantheistic whole, that you are, at least in part, part of it. From "The Last Werewolf" by Glen Duncan.

    March 5, 2012