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noun, plural la·ten·cies.
  1. the state of being latent.
  2. latent period.
  3. Computers. the period of delay when one component of a hardware system is waiting for an action to be executed by another component.
  4. Digital Technology. the time required online or in a network for the one-way or round-trip transfer of data between two nodes.
  5. Digital Technology. (in virtual reality and other types of simulation) the discrepancy between the time delay of stimulus and response in the simulation as compared to the real-world equivalent.

Origin of latency

First recorded in 1630–40; lat(ent) + -ency Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for latency

Historical Examples of latency

Word Origin and History for latency

1630s, "condition of being concealed," from latent + -cy. Meaning "delay between stimulus and response" is from 1882; computer sense (latency time) is from 1954.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

latency in Medicine


  1. The state of being latent.
  2. In conditioning, the period of apparent inactivity between the time the stimulus is presented and the moment a response occurs.
  3. latency period
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.