From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishsilencesi‧lence1 /ˈsaɪləns/ ●●● W2 noun 1 no noise [uncountable]QUIET complete absence of sound or noise SYN quietsilence of Nothing disturbed the silence of the night.silence falls/descends (on/upon something) After the explosion, an eerie silence fell upon the scene.break/shatter the silence A loud scream shattered the silence.2 no talking [countable, uncountable] complete quiet because nobody is talking There was a brief silence before anyone answered.in silence The four men sat in silence.complete/total/dead silence ‘How long have you been here?’ I asked. There was complete silence. ‘Silence in court!’ roared the judge.embarrassed/awkward/stunned etc silence There was an awkward silence between them. The accused exercised his right to silence (=the legal right to choose to say nothing).3 no discussion/answer [uncountable]TALK2# failure or refusal to discuss something or answer questions about somethingsilence on The government’s silence on such an important issue seems very strange. Once again the answer was a deafening silence (=a very noticeable refusal to discuss something).4 no communication [uncountable]CONTACT SB# failure to write a letter to someone, telephone them etc After two years of silence, he suddenly got in touch with us again.5 → one-minute/two-minute etc silenceCOLLOCATIONS – Meanings 1 & 2adjectivescomplete/total/absolute/utter silenceThey sat in complete silence.The silence in the room was absolute.dead silence (=complete silence)There was a gasp from Peter and then a dead silence.a long silence‘He’s dead.’ There was a long silence.a short/brief silenceAfter a brief silence, Katherine nodded.an awkward/uncomfortable/embarrassed silence‘Fred tells me you like books, ’ Steve said, after an awkward silence.a stunned/shocked silenceThere was a stunned silence at the other end of the phone.stony silence (=unfriendly silence)Harrison stared at him in stony silence.a tense silenceThere was a brief, tense silence.an eerie silence (=one that is strange and rather frightening)An eerie silence descended over the house.an ominous silence (=one that makes you feel that something bad is going to happen)‘How long will she be ill?’ There was a short, ominous silence.a sudden silenceAt the mention of John, a sudden silence fell on the room.verbsthere is (a) silenceThere was silence in the library for several moments.break/shatter the silence (=end the silence)The sound of a car engine broke the silence.disturb the silence (=end the silence by making a sound)Nothing moved, no sound disturbed the silence.silence falls/descends (=a silence begins)A sudden silence fell over the room.lapse into silence (=to stop talking and be quiet)'I don't want any, ' he said, and lapsed into silence again.
Examples from the Corpussilence• Yearn to be surrounded by marble, priceless manuscripts and silence?• "What did you do during the war?" Rob asked. There was a deathly silence, and everyone looked down at the table.• I resented her silence too, it cut me out.• He lit his cigar and we sat in silence for a long moment.• Enigmatically, Boon sits in silence for a while.• There was a long silence before anyone answered.• The school observed a minute of silence in honor of the students who had died.• After years of silence, we were talking on the phone every few weeks.• The only sound to break the silence of the night was the soft mutter of my engine.• Nothing disturbed the silence of the night.• A voice echoed in the silence.• And then silence again and the whole sequence begins anew.break/shatter the silence• The silence was suddenly broken by a loud scream.• Only the eerie tinkle of leg irons and shouted commands break the silence.• The roar of a furnace engine broke the silence.• The sound of stockinged legs moving across the room finally broke the silence.• A footstep broke the silence and approached to within ten paces of Blackburn and waited.• To go on with the utter silence or to break the silence, pretending nothing had happened.• The only sound to break the silence of the night was the soft mutter of my engine.• The refrigerator hummed its usual little tune to break the silence and Donna drank her coffee.• Her loud wails shattered the silence of the willow grove.right to silence• Despite these dangers, the right to silence has already been removed in all criminal trials in Northern Ireland.• Controversy exploded around him in 1988 when he appeared on Channel 4 News supporting changes to the right to silence.• Here we are concerned in particular with the right to silence and the right of access to a solicitor.deafening silence• But while those hotspots are continuously monitored by diplomats and the media, the Chechen misery prompts nothing but a deafening silence.• Once again the answer was a deafening silence.• All that remained on the barren expanse was a deafening silence.• The most extraordinary feature of the Opposition's response has been the deafening silence of their principal spokesman in relation to the proposals.silencesilence2 ●○○ verb [transitive] 1 TALK2#to make someone stop talking, or stop something making a noise She held up her hand to silence the children.2 PREVENTto make someone stop expressing opposition or criticisms – used especially in news reports attempts to silence the rumours Barnes has failed to silence his critics.→ See Verb table
Examples from the Corpussilence• Opponents of the regime are quickly silenced.• The Mafia uses threats of physical violence or death to silence any opposition.• Fong said nothing; he had started to object but was silenced by more abuse.• The article silenced Diem, who had immediately surmised its source, but it did not sway Taylor.• Reformists allege that the killings were part of a campaign by state-sponsored death squads to silence dissent.• Partick was livid, but Jane squeezed his arm to silence him.• At last, Switzer had a chance to silence his critics.• Then he became angry, and threatened that he would silence me for ever, if I would not agree.• I opened my mouth to speak but she silenced me with an angry look.• Angry residents are suing the church to silence the bell at night.• Police used violence and threats to silence the party's political opponents.