Etymology: Middle English sylent, from Latin silent-, silens, from present participle of silēre to be silent; akin to Gothic anasilan to cease, grow calm
Date: 15th century
a. making no utterance ; mute, speechless
b. indisposed to speak ; not loquacious
2. free from sound or noise ; still
3. performed or borne without utterance ; unspoken <silent prayer> <silent grief> 4. a. making no mention <history is silent about this person> b. not widely or generally known or appreciated <the silent pressures on a person in public office> c. making no protest or outcry <the silent majority> 5. unpronounced <the silent b in doubt> 6. not exhibiting the usual signs or symptoms of presence <a silent infection> 7. a. made without spoken dialogue <silent movies> b. of or relating to silent movies • silently adverb • silentness noun Synonyms: silent, taciturn, reticent, reserved, secretive mean showing restraint in speaking. silent implies a habit of saying no more than is needed <the strong, silent type>. taciturn implies a temperamental disinclination to speech and usually connotes unsociability <taciturn villagers>. reticent implies a reluctance to speak out or at length, especially about one's own affairs <was reticent about his plans>. reserved implies reticence and suggests the restraining influence of caution or formality in checking easy informal conversational exchange <greetings were brief, formal, and reserved>. secretive too, implies reticence but usually carries a suggestion of deviousness and lack of frankness or of an often ostentatious will to conceal <the secretive research and development division>. II. noun Date: 1929 a motion picture made without spoken dialogue — usually used in plural
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.