from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The condition or quality of being or keeping still and silent.
  • noun The absence of sound; stillness.
  • noun A period of time without speech or noise.
  • noun Refusal or failure to speak out.
  • intransitive verb To make silent or bring to silence.
  • intransitive verb To curtail the expression of; suppress.
  • intransitive verb Genetics To interfere with the expression of (a gene or gene segment) so that its biological function is suppressed.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The state of being or keeping silent; forbearance or restraint of sound; abstinence from speech or other noise; muteness; reticence: as, to listen in silence; the chairman rapped for silence.
  • noun Absence of sound or noise; general stillness within the range or the power of hearing: as, the silence of midnight; the silence of the tomb.
  • noun Absence of mention: as, the silence of Scripture (on a particular subject); oblivion; obscurity.
  • noun In distilled spirits, want of flavor and odor; flatness; deadness. See silent spirit, under silent.
  • noun In music, same as rest, 8.
  • noun Synonyms See silent.
  • To cause to be or keep silent; put or bring to silence; restrain from speech or noise; stop the noise of: as, to silence a battery or a gun-boat.
  • To restrain from speech about something; cause or induce to be silent on a particular subject or class of subjects; make silent or speechless, as by restraint of privilege or license, or by unanswerable argument.
  • Hence To make quiescent; put at rest or into abeyance; stop the activity of: as, to silence one's conscience.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The state of being silent; entire absence of sound or noise; absolute stillness.
  • noun Forbearance from, or absence of, speech; taciturnity; muteness.
  • noun Secrecy.
  • noun The cessation of rage, agitation, or tumilt; calmness; quiest.
  • noun Absence of mention; oblivion.
  • transitive verb To compel to silence; to cause to be still; to still; to hush.
  • transitive verb To put to rest; to quiet.
  • transitive verb To restrain from the exercise of any function, privilege of instruction, or the like, especially from the act of preaching.
  • transitive verb To cause to cease firing, as by a vigorous cannonade.
  • interjection Be silent; -- used elliptically for let there be silence, or keep silence.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The lack of any sound.
  • noun Form of meditative worship practiced by the Society of Friends (Quakers); meeting for worship.
  • noun The action of refraining from speaking.
  • verb transitive To make (someone or something) silent.
  • verb transitive To suppress criticism, etc.
  • verb To block gene expression.
  • interjection be quiet

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

  • verb cause to be quiet or not talk
  • noun the state of being silent (as when no one is speaking)
  • noun the trait of keeping things secret
  • noun a refusal to speak when expected
  • noun the absence of sound
  • verb keep from expression, for example by threats or pressure


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

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin silentium, from silēns, silent-, present participle of silēre, to be silent.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French silence.


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  • "'There are two types of silence,' said Kasper, 'or at least that's how it has sounded to me. There is the high silence, the silence behind prayer. The silence when one is close to the Divine. The silence that is the dense, unborn presence of all sounds. And then there is the other silence. Hopelessly far from God. And from other people. The silence of absence. The silence of loneliness.'

    He felt the young man's openness. There was contact. Interference. They were close to each other.

    'I know them,' said Franz Fieber. 'The two kinds of silence. I know them both.'

    'Those two people I sat across from, they were acoustically dead,' said Kasper. 'Something had gone out of them.'"

    - 'The Quiet Girl', Peter Høeg.

    March 19, 2008

  • "When I pronounce the word Future,

    the first syllable already belongs to the past.

    When I pronounce the word Silence,

    I destroy it.

    When I pronounce the word Nothing,

    I make something no non-being can hold."

    - Wislawa Szymborska, 'The Three Oddest Words', translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh.

    June 13, 2008

  • It reminds me a beautiful book "iRead", The seventh son by Orson Scott Card. The boy has a gift for creating, but there is something (hard to define) against him, that they call the Unmaker.

    Look, I'm talking about books!

    June 13, 2008

  • "Am I afraid of silence? I wouldn't ask, except I never seem to allow it. I watch tv, listen to music, radio, podcasts, if I'm with friends talk to them, and sometimes when I'm alone I talk to myself. The only time I consistently ever allow quiet is before drifting off to sleep (see dreams). Perhaps it is telling that I can accept no aural stimulus if I am deeply ingrained in reading a novel or solving a math problem. It could be that by listening to one thing while doing another prevents me from the exertion of concentrating full brain power on a given task. Have I been handicapping myself this whole time? If I put cotton balls in my ears would I be some great genius? Or am I fooling myself, am I nothing more than what I am? Does music provide a soundtrack to my life, neither improving nor harming my capabilities, just heightening my experiences?" -- excerpt from the autobiography of Seanahan

    April 23, 2009

  • Ooh, bilby, what a nice pronunciation! You enunciate this word perfectly.

    November 28, 2009

  • It's music to my ears.

    November 28, 2009

  • Practiced for hours, I did.

    November 28, 2009

  • bilby -- HAR!

    November 30, 2009

  • like anything else, the value of silence depends on the circumstances.

    April 29, 2011

  • Szymborska!

    April 29, 2011

  • What is so delicate that when you say its name it is broken?
    (Too bad bilby's pronunciation is gone along with the other Wordie pronunciations.)

    June 23, 2015

  • It's still a struggle to stop calling this site Wordie.

    June 23, 2015