Meaning of SILENT in English


I. ˈsīlənt adjective

( often -er/-est )

Etymology: Latin silent-, silens, from present participle of silēre to be silent; akin to Gothic ana silan to subside, abate (of wind), Latin sinere to leave, let go, lay — more at site

1. : making no utterance:

a. : unable to speak : mute , tongue-tied , awestruck

stared at the Pacific … silent , upon a peak in Darien — John Keats

b. : unaccustomed or indisposed to speak : not conversing or answering : resolved not to speak

he laughed and chattered, but she was silent , seeming to brood over something — D.H.Lawrence

the silent suspect, refusing to answer the police

2. : free from sound or noise : making no sound or noise : perfectly quiet : noiseless , still

a silent room

a silent audience

a silent forest


a. : conducted, performed, enjoyed, or borne without spoken word or utterance : unspoken , tacit

the banquet, at first so silent , slowly changes to a merry tumult — Lafcadio Hearn

silent protest must at length come to words — Thomas Carlyle

silent reading

silent prayer

b. : not expressed in words : felt or experienced without expression in words or vocal utterance

suffering in silent grief


a. : making no mention or account : omitting explanation and leaving questions unanswered

on the crucial point of enforcement methods the assembly resolution is silent — Ruth Lawson

did not tell us that logic is to be ignored when experience is silent — B.N.Cardozo

remained silent on the reasons for the change

b. : not recorded : not mentioned, explained, or referred to

the secretary's silent role in the conspiracy

c. : not known or not generally known : unnoticed and therefore not appreciated

the railways might well be said to render a silent service — O.S.Nock

new ways of life developing under the silent pressure of a freer environment — V.L.Parrington

d. : taking no active part in the conduct of a business

a silent member of a firm

— compare silent partner

e. : unresponsive especially from lack of feeling or understanding

this humbug of the judge as a soulless automaton whose mind and heart are silent when he performs his operations — H.J.Laski

5. : being an orthographic letter or letter combination which if removed from a word would still leave letters enough to account for the pronunciation of the word

silent b in doubt

silent ph in phthisis

or which serves as a conventional indicator of the quality of another letter without itself being pronounced

silent e in pine shows that the i has the value ī rather than the value i in pin


a. : maintaining a state of inactivity

a silent volcano


(1) : not exhibiting the usual evidences (as signs or symptoms) of presence

a silent bone fracture

silent heat in cattle

: causing no symptoms

silent gallstones

silent tuberculosis

(2) : characterized by such a silent state

the silent phase of a tumor

(3) : yielding no detectable response to stimulation — used especially of an association area of the brain

7. : flavorless , flat — used of distilled spirits especially when rectified for use in the arts


a. : lacking spoken dialogue

b. : of or relating to silent motion pictures

the silent screen

Hollywood in the great days of the silent stars — Budd Schulberg

9. : inaudible to the human ear because outside its frequency range

a silent dog whistle


reticent , reserved , taciturn , uncommunicative , close , close-mouthed, close-lipped , tight-lipped , secretive : as here discussed, silent may refer to a disposition to speak rather little or to a determination not to speak

a silent man with a great sense of his personal worth which made his speeches guarded — Joseph Conrad

was very silent during the speech and … had listened attentively — George Meredith

reticent indicates reluctance to speak out induced either by cautious discreetness or by shy lack of assertiveness

almost reticent in his stingy use of words exactly chiseled out of the moment's need — W.A.White

about his own experiences … was inclined to be reticent … because he considered them, as he put it, uninteresting — Kenneth Roberts

reserved describes speaking or acting under the restraining influence of caution or formality checking easy unguarded expression

I wished that she had told me frankly … Jane was always so reserved — Rose Macaulay

even the reserved Washington wrote caustically of their bad manners — Allan Nevins & H.S.Commager

taciturn suggests a deep and accustomed disinclination to talk much; it may connote the unsociable or the laconic

he had become more and more gloomy and taciturn. Mills tried in vain to draw him into talk — C.B.Nordhoff & J.N.Hall

always taciturn, he now hardly spoke at all — Stuart Cloete

uncommunicative indicates an unwillingness to impart information

an atomic scientist quite uncommunicative about his work

close indicates a general disposition to keep information from being revealed

will confide in nobody … every one feels that he is emphatically close — J.H.Newman

you're a close one, but you give yourself away sometimes — Willa Cather

closed-mouthed and close-lipped have about the same suggestions as close , although they are more likely to be used in reference to matters confidential or secret

a millionaire's close-mouthed confidential secretary

a duke's close-lipped adviser

tight-lipped may suggest resolute or determined silence about a specific matter

company officials, all tight-lipped about the uranium thefts

secretive suggests either a disposition towards carefully guarding secrets or undue caution or concealment about less important matters

you're so excessively secretive that I can't help being curious — Dashiell Hammett

II. noun

( -s )

1. obsolete : a time of silence

the silent of the night — Shakespeare

2. silents plural : motion pictures without spoken dialogue

some primitive Western of the silents, at which you were supposed to laugh — Edmund Wilson

in the days of the silents — Alfred Kazin

III. adjective

: having no detectable function or effect

silent DNA

silent genes

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.