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  1. absence of any sound or noise; stillness.
  2. the state or fact of being silent; muteness.
  3. absence or omission of mention, comment, or expressed concern: the conspicuous silence of our newspapers on local graft.
  4. the state of being forgotten; oblivion: in the news again after years of silence.
  5. concealment; secrecy.
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verb (used with object), si·lenced, si·lenc·ing.
  1. to put or bring to silence; still.
  2. to put (doubts, fears, etc.) to rest; quiet.
  3. Military. to still (enemy guns), as by more effective fire.
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  1. be silent! “Silence!” the teacher shouted.
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Origin of silence

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


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for silencing


  1. the state or quality of being silent
  2. the absence of sound or noise; stillness
  3. refusal or failure to speak, communicate, etc, when expectedhis silence on the subject of their promotion was alarming
  4. a period of time without noise
  5. oblivion or obscurity
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verb (tr)
  1. to bring to silence
  2. to put a stop to; extinguishto silence all complaint
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Word Origin

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 silencing



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.

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper