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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

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.
  • interjection Be silent; -- used elliptically for let there be silence, or keep silence.
  • 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.

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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