1. The condition or quality of being or keeping still and silent.
2. The absence of sound; stillness.
3. A period of time without speech or noise.
4. Refusal or failure to speak out.
v.tr. si·lenced, si·lenc·ing, si·lenc·es
1. To make silent or bring to silence: silenced the crowd with a gesture.
2. To curtail the expression of; suppress: silencing all criticism; silenced their opponents.
3. Genetics To interfere with the expression of (a gene or gene segment) so that its biological function is suppressed.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin silentium, from silēns, silent-, present participle of silēre, to be silent.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.