• synonyms


  1. earthy matter, fine sand, or the like carried by moving or running water and deposited as a sediment.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to become filled or choked up with silt.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to fill or choke up with silt.
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Origin of silt

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 formssil·ta·tion, nounsilt·y, adjectivede·silt, verb (used with object)
Can be confusedsand sediment silt
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for silty

Historical Examples

  • Sometimes it seemed to make no headway at all against the heavy, silty current.


    T.S. Stribling

  • The flathead chub is found in silty water and often is the predominant species in streams that have high turbidity.

  • The silty soil preferred by the willow is scarce as both streams are actively eroding their channels.

  • A light to heavy silty loam, underlaid by a silty clay loam, is considered best.

    Apple Growing

    M. C. Burritt

  • By rubbing some of this between the fingers, both dry and wet, one can get a fair idea of how a silty soil should feel.

    The First Book of Farming

    Charles L. Goodrich

British Dictionary definitions for silty


  1. a fine deposit of mud, clay, etc, esp one in a river or lake
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  1. (usually foll by up) to fill or become filled with silt; choke
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Derived Formssiltation, nounsilty, 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

Word Origin and History for silty



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.)).

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

silty in Science


  1. 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.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.