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See more synonyms for silent on Thesaurus.com
  1. making no sound; quiet; still: a silent motor.
  2. refraining from speech.
  3. speechless; mute.
  4. not inclined to speak; taciturn; reticent.
  5. characterized by absence of speech or sound: a silent prayer.
  6. unspoken; tacit: a silent assent.
  7. omitting mention of something, as in a narrative: The records are silent about this crime.
  8. inactive or quiescent, as a volcano.
  9. not sounded or pronounced: The “b” in “doubt” is a silent letter.
  10. Movies. not having spoken dialogue or a soundtrack.
  11. Medicine/Medical. producing no symptoms: silent gallstones.
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  1. Usually silents. silent films.
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Origin of silent

1555–65; < Latin silent- (stem of silēns), present participle of silēre to be quiet; see -ent
Related formssi·lent·ly, adverbsi·lent·ness, nouno·ver·si·lent, adjectiveo·ver·si·lent·ly, adverbo·ver·si·lent·ness, nounsu·per·si·lent, adjectivesu·per·si·lent·ly, adverbun·si·lent, adjectiveun·si·lent·ly, adverb


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Synonym study

1. See still1.


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

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Examples from the Web for silently

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British Dictionary definitions for silently


  1. characterized by an absence or near absence of noise or sounda silent house
  2. tending to speak very little or not at all
  3. unable to speak
  4. failing to speak, communicate, etc, when expectedthe witness chose to remain silent
  5. not spoken or expressedsilent assent
  6. not active or in operationa silent volcano
  7. (of a letter) used in the conventional orthography of a word but no longer pronounced in that wordthe ``k'' in ``know'' is silent
  8. denoting a film that has no accompanying soundtrack, esp one made before 1927, when such soundtracks were developed
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  1. a silent film
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Derived Formssilently, adverbsilentness, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Latin silēns, from silēre to be quiet
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 silently


1560s, from silent (adj.) + -ly (2).

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c.1500, "without speech, silent, not speaking," from Latin silentem (nominative silens) "still, calm, quiet," present participle of silere "be quiet or still" (see silence (n.)). Meaning "free from noise or sound" is from 1580s.

Of letters, c.1600; of films, 1914. In the looser sense "of few words," from 1840. Phrase strong, silent (type) is attested from 1905. Silent majority in the political sense of "mass of people whose moderate views are not publicly expressed and thus overlooked" is first attested 1955 in a British context and was used by John F. Kennedy but is most associated in U.S. with the rhetoric of the Nixon administration (1969-74).

It is time for America's silent majority to stand up for its rights, and let us remember the American majority includes every minority. America's silent majority is bewildered by irrational protest. [Spiro T. Agnew, May 9, 1969]

In Victorian use, the phrase meant "the dead" (1874; cf. Roman use of the noun plural of "silent" to mean "the dead"). Silence is golden (1831) is Carlyle's translation ["Sartor Resartus"] of part of the "Swiss Inscription" Sprechen ist silbern, Schweigen ist golden.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

silently in Medicine


  1. Producing no detectable signs or symptoms. Used of certain diseases or pathological processes.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

silently in Science


  1. Relating to a mutation that changes a nucleotide in a codon without a difference in the amino acid for which it is coded. See more at point mutation.
  2. Producing no detectable signs or symptoms, as a medical condition such as heart attack.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.