Definition of silence noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈsaɪləns//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈsaɪləns//
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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 nobody 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 honour of those who had died Her accusations reduced him to silence. He’s not one to suffer in silence! (= to suffer without telling somebody)
  3. 3[uncountable, singular] a situation in which somebody 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. Word OriginMiddle English: from Old French, from Latin silentium, from silere ‘be silent’.Extra examples A heavy silence lingered in the air. A minute’s silence for the victims will be observed. A stunned silence greeted her announcement. A sudden silence fell over the room. An awkward silence followed. Celeste’s voice penetrated the silence. Countries throughout Europe held a three minutes’ silence. He has so far kept a dignified silence on the subject. He lapsed into a sullen silence. He thought for a moment, the silence lengthening. Her comments were met with a stunned silence. Her question was met with an uneasy silence. I took her silence as a no. Lewis finally broke the long silence between them. She fell into long, brooding silences. She filled the silence with music. She has broken her vow of silence on the issue. She maintained a stony silence. Silence reigned. The boys were stunned into silence by this news. The government’s only response has been a deafening silence. The rest of the trip passed in relative silence. The soldier had broken radio silence to contact his aircraft. There is a conspiracy of silence about what is happening. There seems to have been a deliberate silence from the newspapers. There was a moment’s silence before she replied. They ate their breakfast in silence. They observed two minutes’ silence to remember the war dead. They walked in companionable silence. We sat and watched in awed silence as she performed. We sat in complete silence, save for the ticking of the clock. a debate to break the silence surrounding domestic violence a silence punctuated only by the occasional sniff from the children Something was moving in silence along the edge of the woods.Idioms
    a heavy silence/atmosphere
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    a situation when people do not say anything, but feel embarrassed or uncomfortable
    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.
    (saying) it is often best not to say anything
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: silence