American English

Definition of silence noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[uncountable] a complete lack of noise or sound synonym quiet Their footsteps echoed in the silence. A scream broke the silence of the night. I need absolute silence when I'm working.
  2. 2[countable, uncountable] a situation when no one is speaking an embarrassed/awkward silence a moment's stunned silence I got used to his long silences. They finished their meal in total silence. She lapsed into silence again. There was a deafening silence (= one that is very noticeable). a two-minute silence in honor of those who had died Her accusations reduced him to silence. He's not one to suffer in silence (= to suffer without telling someone)!
  3. 3[uncountable, singular] a situation in which someone refuses to talk about something or to answer questions She broke her public silence in a TV interview. silence (on something) The company's silence on the subject has been taken as an admission of guilt. the right to silence (= the legal right not to say anything when you are arrested) There is a conspiracy of silence about what is happening (= everyone has agreed not to discuss it).
  4. 4[uncountable] a situation in which people do not communicate with each other by letter or telephone The phone call came after months of silence.
  5. Idioms
    a pregnant pause/silence
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    an occasion when nobody speaks, although people are aware that there are feelings or thoughts to express There was a pregnant pause before she replied.
    silence is golden (saying)
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    it is often best not to say anything
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: silence