Meaning of “silence” in the English Dictionary

"silence" in British English

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silencenoun

uk /ˈsaɪ.ləns/ us /ˈsaɪ.ləns/

silence noun (QUIET)

B1 [ U ] a period without any sound; complete quiet:

A loud crash of thunder broke the silence of the night.
Silence reigned (= there was complete silence) in the church.

More examples

  • The conductor waited for dead silence before commencing the performance.
  • After he had spoken, a deathly silence/hush fell on the room.
  • In the silence of the night, a lone wolf howled.
  • A screech of brakes jarred the silence.
  • The silence was broken only by the whisper of the leaves in the gentle breeze.

silence noun (NO SPEAKING)

B1 [ U ] a state of not speaking or writing or making a noise:

The soldiers listened in silence as their captain gave the orders.
"Silence! (= Stop talking!)" shouted the teacher.
My request for help was met with silence (= I received no answer).
Their mother's angry words reduced the children to silence.

B2 [ C ] a period of time in which there is complete quiet or no speaking:

Their conversation was punctuated by uncomfortable silences.

C2 [ U or C ] a state of refusing to talk about something or answer questions, or a state of not communicating:

My request for help was met with silence (= I received no answer).
Her silence about/on what had happened to her surprised everyone.
I don't expect to hear from her now, after three years' silence (= three years in which she has not spoken or written to me).

More examples

  • Cistercian monks and nuns take a vow of silence.
  • He has maintained a dignified silence about the rumours.
  • A jury should not interpret the silence of a defendant as a sign of guilt.
  • No one could think of anything more to say, and the meeting lapsed into silence.
  • We listened in silence as the names of the dead were read out.

silenceverb [ T ]

uk /ˈsaɪ.ləns/ us /ˈsaɪ.ləns/

to make someone or something be quiet:

The teacher raised his voice to silence the class (= to make them stop talking).
Her remark about his appearance completely silenced him (= made him unable to answer).
figurative The enemy's guns were silenced (= made to stop firing) in a surprise attack.

to prevent someone from expressing their views or from criticizing or opposing someone:

The more they try to silence us, the more we will speak out.
Al Capone silenced his opponents by killing them.

(Definition of “silence” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"silence" in American English

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silencenoun

us /ˈsɑɪ·ləns/

silence noun (QUIET)

[ U ] an absence of sound; complete quiet:

A profound silence spread itself through the sleeping house.

silence noun (NO SPEAKING)

[ C/U ] a state of not speaking or making noise:

[ U ] The two men ate in silence and listened to traffic swishing past on the highway.
[ C ] Her question was followed by a long silence (= a long period of time in which no one spoke).

silenceverb [ T ]

us /ˈsɑɪ·ləns/

silence verb [ T ] (STOP FROM SPEAKING)

to stop someone from speaking or from criticizing:

Successful action could silence the administration’s critics.

(Definition of “silence” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)