27 Idioms for Silence: Echoes of Quietude


Silence is often thought of as the absence of sound, but it can be a powerful means of communication.

We’ll dive into idioms for silence, exploring their unique significance and providing real-life examples to shed light on their usage. Let’s embark on a journey into the world of hushed expressions.

idioms for silence

What is an idiom for silence?

An idiom for silence is a phrase or expression that employs words related to quietness to convey a particular message or sentiment. These idioms often draw connections between silence and various aspects of communication, secrecy, or the inability to speak.

Join us as we decipher the meanings behind these intriguing idioms.


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Created by Dr. Julia Rossi

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What is a simile?

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Identify the simile in the following sentence: “She swims like a fish.”

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Which of the following is a metaphor?

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What is an idiom?

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What does the idiom “break the ice” mean?

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Choose the adjective in the following sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

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“Out of the frying pan into the fire” is an example of:

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Which of the following is an adjective?

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The abbreviation “NASA” stands for:

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Choose the metaphor in the following sentence: “Time is a thief.”

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What does the idiom “hit the books” mean?

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Which of the following sentences contains a simile?

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“LOL” is an abbreviation for:

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Hold one’s tongueTo refrain from speaking or expressing one’s thoughts or opinions.She chose to hold her tongue during the meeting.
Zip one’s lipsTo keep quiet or maintain silence, often to avoid revealing information.He promised to zip his lips about the secret.
Keep mumTo remain silent or keep a secret.She decided to keep mum about her plans.
Button one’s lipTo stop talking or prevent oneself from saying something.He quickly buttoned his lip when he noticed her anger.
Mum’s the wordAn expression to request silence or discretion regarding a particular matter.He replied, “Mum’s the word until her birthday.”
Cat got your tongue?A playful way of asking someone why they are not speaking.She teased her friend, “Cat got your tongue?”
Bite one’s tongueTo consciously avoid saying something that might be offensive or unwise.He chose to bite his tongue during the meeting.
Speechless as a fishUnable to speak due to shock, surprise, or astonishment.The unexpected news left her speechless as a fish.
Clam upTo suddenly become silent and refuse to talk, often due to nervousness or secrecy.He clammed up when asked about the missing homework.
Tight-lippedSomeone who is unwilling to share information or speak openly about a topic.She remained tight-lipped about her plans.
Keep a lid on itTo keep something secret or not reveal it to others.His team kept a lid on the project until it was announced.
Hush-hushSomething kept secret or not discussed openly.The surprise party details were kept hush-hush.
Deafening silenceA silence so profound and unexpected that it becomes almost overwhelming.After the announcement, there was deafening silence.
Stone-cold silenceAn absolute and unbroken silence, often used to describe a lack of response.He received stone-cold silence after apologizing.
Dead quietA state of complete silence and stillness, often in a peaceful or eerie manner.The forest was dead quiet with no rustling leaves.
Mute as a mouseExtremely quiet and making no noise at all.The children were mute as mice during the party.
Silent as the graveCompletely and eerily quiet, similar to the silence of a cemetery.The streets were silent as the grave after the storm.
Pin-drop silenceAn extreme level of quietness, where even the sound of a pin dropping can be heard.The classroom fell into pin-drop silence during the exam.
Not a peepAbsolutely no sound or noise, not even a small sound.He stayed in his room for hours without making a peep.
Still as a statueCompletely motionless and silent, like a statue.He remained still as a statue during the game.
Silent nightA peaceful and quiet night without disturbances.They enjoyed a silent night by the fireplace.
Radio silenceComplete absence of communication or response, often in a military context.They were in radio silence during the mission.
Muzzle one’s mouthTo prevent oneself from speaking, often due to external pressure or fear of consequences.She had to muzzle her mouth in the meeting.
Tongue-tiedUnable to speak fluently or coherently due to nervousness or shyness.He became tongue-tied when he saw his crush.
Noiseless as a shadowCompletely silent and stealthy, like a shadow that makes no noise.The ninja moved noiseless as a shadow.
Silent as the SphinxExtremely quiet and mysterious, like the ancient Sphinx statue.The library was silent as the Sphinx.
Soundless as a whisperMaking no sound at all, as quiet as a whisper.The wind in the forest was soundless as a whisper.

Silence is like a blank canvas, waiting for the strokes of sound to paint the picture of our surroundings. For more comparisons to describe silence, you can check this link: Similes for silence. And for a variety of metaphors related to silence, you can explore this link: Metaphors for silence.

Idioms for Silence

1. Hold one’s tongue

Meaning: To refrain from speaking or expressing one’s thoughts or opinions.

In a Sentence: She had so much to say in the meeting, but she chose to hold her tongue and listen instead.

2. Zip one’s lips

Meaning: To keep quiet or maintain silence, often to avoid revealing information.

In a Sentence: He knew the secret but promised to zip his lips and not disclose it to anyone.

3. Keep mum

Meaning: To remain silent or keep a secret.

In a Sentence: She decided to keep mum about her surprise birthday party plans.

4. Button one’s lip

Meaning: To stop talking or prevent oneself from saying something.

In a Sentence: When he noticed the angry look on her face, he quickly buttoned his lip.

5. Mum’s the word

Meaning: An expression to request silence or discretion regarding a particular matter.

In a Sentence: When asked about the surprise gift, he replied, “Mum’s the word until her birthday.”

6. Cat got your tongue?

Meaning: A playful way of asking someone why they are not speaking.

In a Sentence: She teased her friend by asking, “Cat got your tongue? You’re usually so talkative.”

7. Bite one’s tongue

Meaning: To consciously avoid saying something that might be offensive or unwise.

In a Sentence: Even though he disagreed with the decision, he chose to bite his tongue during the meeting.

8. Speechless as a fish

Meaning: Unable to speak due to shock, surprise, or astonishment.

In a Sentence: When they revealed the unexpected news, she was left speechless as a fish.

9. Clam up

Meaning: To suddenly become silent and refuse to talk, often due to nervousness or secrecy.

In a Sentence: He clammed up when the teacher asked him about the missing homework.

10. Tight-lipped

Meaning: Someone who is unwilling to share information or speak openly about a topic.

In a Sentence: She remained tight-lipped about her plans for the weekend, leaving her friends curious.

11. Keep a lid on it

Meaning: To keep something secret or not reveal it to others.

In a Sentence: He advised his team to keep a lid on the upcoming project until it was officially announced.

12. Hush-hush

Meaning: Something kept secret or not discussed openly.

In a Sentence: The details of the surprise party were hush-hush to maintain the element of surprise.

13. Deafening silence

Meaning: A silence so profound and unexpected that it becomes almost overwhelming.

In a Sentence: After the announcement, there was a deafening silence in the room as everyone processed the news.

14. Stone-cold silence

Meaning: An absolute and unbroken silence, often used to describe a lack of response.

In a Sentence: Despite his attempts to apologize, he was met with stone-cold silence from his friend.

15. Dead quiet

Meaning: A state of complete silence and stillness, often in a peaceful or eerie manner.

In a Sentence: The forest was dead quiet, with not even a rustle of leaves in the air.

16. Mute as a mouse

Meaning: Extremely quiet and making no noise at all.

In a Sentence: The children were as mute as mice during the surprise party, trying not to give it away.

17. Silent as the grave

Meaning: Completely and eerily quiet, similar to the silence of a cemetery.

In a Sentence: The aftermath of the storm left the city streets as silent as the grave.

18. Pin-drop silence

Meaning: An extreme level of quietness, where even the sound of a pin dropping can be heard.

In a Sentence: The classroom fell into pin-drop silence as the teacher began the exam.

19. Not a peep

Meaning: Absolutely no sound or noise, not even a small sound.

In a Sentence: He remained in his room for hours, not making a peep.

20. Still as a statue

Meaning: Completely motionless and silent, like a statue.

In a Sentence: The child remained still as a statue during the game of hide and seek, hoping not to be found.

21. Silent night

Meaning: A peaceful and quiet night without disturbances.

In a Sentence: They enjoyed a silent night by the fireplace, listening to the crackling logs.

22. Radio silence

Meaning: Complete absence of communication or response, often in a military context.

In a Sentence: They were in radio silence while on the covert mission to avoid detection.

23. Muzzle one’s mouth

Meaning: To prevent oneself from speaking, often due to external pressure or fear of consequences.

In a Sentence: She had to muzzle her mouth during the confidential company meeting.

24. Tongue-tied

Meaning: Unable to speak fluently or coherently due to nervousness or shyness.

In a Sentence: When he saw his crush, he became tongue-tied and couldn’t say a word.

25. Noiseless as a shadow

Meaning: Completely silent and stealthy, like a shadow that makes no noise.

In a Sentence: The ninja moved noiseless as a shadow through the darkened room.

26. Silent as the Sphinx

Meaning: Extremely quiet and mysterious, like the ancient Sphinx statue.

In a Sentence: The library was silent as the Sphinx, with everyone engrossed in their books.

27. Soundless as a whisper

Meaning: Making no sound at all, as quiet as a whisper.

In a Sentence: The wind in the forest was soundless as a whisper, creating a serene atmosphere.

Quizzes About The Idioms in The Article

Here are 10 quiz questions about the idioms for silence mentioned in the article:

Quiz 1:

  1. What does the idiom “Keep mum” mean?
  • a) To remain quiet or keep a secret.
  • b) To talk loudly.
  • c) To express one’s thoughts openly.

Quiz 2:

  1. When someone is asked, “Cat got your tongue?” what are they inquiring about?
  • a) If you’ve seen a cat.
  • b) Why you are not speaking.
  • c) If you’re feeling hungry.

Quiz 3:

  1. What does the expression “Bite one’s tongue” signify?
  • a) To chew gum.
  • b) To consciously avoid saying something offensive.
  • c) To speak without thinking.

Quiz 4:

  1. When someone remains “Tight-lipped” about a topic, what are they doing?
  • a) Sharing all the details.
  • b) Refusing to speak openly about it.
  • c) Talking loudly.

Quiz 5:

  1. What does “Muzzle one’s mouth” mean?
  • a) To cover your mouth with your hands.
  • b) To prevent oneself from speaking.
  • c) To speak freely.

Quiz 6:

  1. What is the meaning of “Not a peep”?
  • a) Making a lot of noise.
  • b) Making a small sound.
  • c) Absolutely no sound at all.

Quiz 7:

  1. If someone is “Stone-cold silence,” how are they likely to respond?
  • a) With a friendly greeting.
  • b) With an enthusiastic conversation.
  • c) With an unbroken silence.

Quiz 8:

  1. What does “Pin-drop silence” refer to?
  • a) A classroom full of noise.
  • b) An extreme level of quietness where even the sound of a pin dropping can be heard.
  • c) A noisy crowd.

Quiz 9:

  1. What is the meaning of “Radio silence” in a military context?
  • a) Broadcasting music on the radio.
  • b) Complete absence of communication or response.
  • c) Broadcasting military orders on the radio.

Quiz 10:

  1. When someone becomes “Tongue-tied,” what is the likely cause?
    • a) They’ve been speaking fluently.
    • b) They are unable to speak fluently due to nervousness or shyness.
    • c) They are speaking confidently.

Answers:

  1. a) To remain quiet or keep a secret.
  2. b) Why you are not speaking.
  3. b) To consciously avoid saying something offensive.
  4. b) Refusing to speak openly about it.
  5. b) To prevent oneself from speaking.
  6. c) Absolutely no sound at all.
  7. c) With an unbroken silence.
  8. b) An extreme level of quietness where even the sound of a pin dropping can be heard.
  9. b) Complete absence of communication or response.
  10. b) They are unable to speak fluently due to nervousness or shyness.

Conclusion

Language is a fascinating tool that can convey meaning in various ways, including through idioms. These idioms for silence provide us with insights into the human experience, showcasing how we use silence and quietness to express emotions, maintain secrets, or simply enjoy moments of peace.

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