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[silt] /sɪlt/
earthy matter, fine sand, or the like carried by moving or running water and deposited as a sediment.
verb (used without object)
to become filled or choked up with silt.
verb (used with object)
to fill or choke up with silt.
Origin of silt
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English cylte gravel, perhaps orig. salty deposit; compare Old English unsylt unsalted, unseasoned, sylting seasoning, syltan to salt, season, Norwegian sylt salty swamp, German Sülze salt marsh, brine
Related forms
siltation, noun
silty, adjective
desilt, verb (used with object)
Can be confused
sand, sediment, silt. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for silting
Historical Examples
  • This then so far shows that there is a silting forward of the land.

  • Intrigue, and riot, and suppression, and the silting up of the Zwyn were driving trade from Bruges.

    The Story of Bruges Ernest Gilliat-Smith
  • Bruges, however, had now ceased to be the central market and exchange of Europe, owing to the silting up of the river Zwijn.

    History of Holland George Edmundson
  • The Laguna Madre has become dried up, however, due to the silting up of its channels.

    Mexico Charles Reginald Enock
  • Outside the rain swept steadily against the glass with a soft, silting sound.

    Mortmain Arthur Cheny Train
  • Great banks of sand 20 feet high line the river-beds, and wash away with the heavy rains, which contribute to the silting up.

    Southern Arabia Theodore Bent
  • In the 16th century the port began to dwindle in importance owing to the silting up of the Seine estuary and the rise of Havre.

  • Hence when the discharge is large there is danger of erosion, and when it is small of silting or obstruction by weeds.

  • Sandy loam merging into top of sandy clay fill or silting, spreading over edges of cellar hole and sealing the chimney remains.

  • Which, however, was probably already being weakened by the silting up of the Pisan harbour.

    The Evolution of States J. M. Robertson
British Dictionary definitions for silting


a fine deposit of mud, clay, etc, esp one in a river or lake
(usually foll by up) to fill or become filled with silt; choke
Derived Forms
siltation, noun
silty, adjective
Word Origin
C15: of Scandinavian origin; compare Norwegian, Danish sylt salt marsh; related to Old High German sulza salt marsh; see salt
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for silting



mid-15c., originally "sediment deposited by seawater," probably from a Scandinavian source (cf. Norwegian and Danish sylt "salt marsh"), or from Middle Low German or Middle Dutch silte, sulte "salt marsh, brine," from Proto-Germanic *sultjo- (cf. Old English sealt, Old High German sulza "saltwater," German Sulze "brine"), from PIE *sal- (see salt (n.)).



"to become choked with silt" (of river channels, harbors, etc.), 1799, from silt (n.). Related: Silted; silting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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silting in Science
A sedimentary material consisting of grains or particles of disintegrated rock, smaller than sand and larger than clay. The diameter of the particles ranges from 0.0039 to 0.0625 mm. Silt is often found at the bottom of bodies of water where it accumulates slowly by settling through the water.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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