verb (used with object), si·lenced, si·lenc·ing.


be silent! “Silence!” the teacher shouted.

Origin of silence

1175–1225; Middle English (noun) < Old French < Latin silentium. See silent, -ence
Related formso·ver·si·lence, nounun·si·lenced, adjective

Synonyms for silence Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for silence

Contemporary Examples of silence

Historical Examples of silence

  • Eudora persevered in silence, but her agitation obviously increased.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • The silence remained unbroken, until Paralus asked for music.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Each instinctively touched the other's arm, as a signal for silence.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • He was busy almost half an hour, while Uncle Peter smoked in silence.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Robert pointed in silence to the huge rock which lay on the track.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

British Dictionary definitions for silence



the state or quality of being silent
the absence of sound or noise; stillness
refusal or failure to speak, communicate, etc, when expectedhis silence on the subject of their promotion was alarming
a period of time without noise
oblivion or obscurity

verb (tr)

to bring to silence
to put a stop to; extinguishto silence all complaint

Word Origin for silence

C13: via Old French from Latin silēntium, from silēre to be quiet. See silent
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

Word Origin and History for silence

c.1200, "muteness, state of being silent," from Old French silence "state of being silent; absence of sound," from Latin silentium "a being silent," from silens, present participle of silere "be quiet or still," of unknown origin. Meaning "absence of sound" in English is from late 14c.


1560s, intransitive, "become still or silent;" 1590s, transitive, "make silent," from silence (n.). Related: Silenced; silencing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper