eloquent silence(redirected from the eloquent silence)
An absence of speech or sound that creates or communicates an especially effective or poignant message. The eloquent silence of the protestors gathered in front of the courthouse helped create a chilling and unforgettable tableau.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
eloquent silence, an
Speechlessness that speaks louder than speech. “Often there is eloquence in a silent look,” wrote the Roman poet Ovid in his Artis Amatoriae (The Art of Love), a three-volume how-to text for lovers (ca. 1 b.c.). Cicero, Tasso, and La Rochefoucauld were among the many who echoed the sentiment, although not all in the service of love. In English, the playwright William Congreve said (Old Batchelour, 1693, 2:9), “Even silence may be eloquent in love.” It was already a cliché by the time Thomas Carlyle (On Heroes and Hero-Worship, 1840) wrote, “Silence is more eloquent than words.” A newer synonym, dating from the second half of the 1900s and rapidly becoming a cliché, is deafening silence. It is used especially to refer to a refusal to reply or to make a comment. The Times had it on Aug. 28, 1985: “Conservative and Labour MPS [Members of Parliament] have complained of a ‘deafening silence’ over the affair.” See also actions speak louder than words.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer