AskDefine | Define latent

Dictionary Definition

latent adj
1 potentially existing but not presently evident or realized; "a latent fingerprint"; "latent talent"
2 not presently active; "latent infection"; "latent diabetes"

User Contributed Dictionary



From latet "to lie hidden", from Ancient Greek λανθάνω (lanthano) "to escape notice, to be unknown, to be unseen, to be unnoticed", from λήθη (lethe) "forgetting, forgetfulness".


  1. existing or present but concealed or inactive



Extensive Definition

Latent can mean "hidden", "presently inactive" or "potentially existing but not yet realized". In specific contexts, it can mean:
  • Latent heat, the amount of energy released or absorbed by a substance during a change of phase
  • Latent geologic fault
  • Latent medical condition, a condition that is present but not active or causing symptoms.
  • Latent bud, in some plants a bud that grows in favourable conditions but remains a bud until such conditions appear.
  • Virus latency, the "quiet" or dormant stage of life of a virus, when it does little but maintain its genome, until favourable conditions for the lytic phase appear, when it starts to replicate.
  • Latent fingerprint, the identifiable impression made by a finger, which is not immediately available (for example, because it is on a difficult surface such as skin) but can be made available ("developed") using some appropriate technique.
  • Latent Recordings, a record label
  • Latent variable
Latency can mean:
  • Latency (engineering), a time delay between the moment something is initiated and the moment its first effect begins.
  • Latency (audio), the time delay in digital audio systems due to analog to digital conversions, processing and conversion back to analog.
  • Memory latency and RAM latency, the amount of time a computer needs to wait to get data from RAM.
  • Input lag, the latency between using an input device and the result being displayed.
  • Communication lag or latency, the time taken for a packet of data to be sent by an application, travel and be received by another application.
  • Incubation period, the time between exposure to a pathogenic organism, or chemical or radiation, and when symptoms and signs are first apparent.
  • Latency in child sexuality, a psychoanalytic phase, extending from roughly age 7 to 12, during which sexuality is repressed or sublimated (now more commonly called "middle childhood" and "prepubescence").
  • Clinical latency
  • Dormancy
An example of a virus that is Latent in many people for long periods of time is Mononucleosis.
latent in Danish: Latent
latent in German: Latenz
latent in French: Latence
latent in Polish: Latencja

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abeyant, abstruse, apathetic, arcane, beclouded, behind the curtain, behind the scenes, between the lines, blind, buried, cabalistic, camouflaged, cataleptic, catatonic, censored, classified, close, closed, clouded, concealed, covered, covert, cryptic, dark, dead, delitescent, disguised, dopey, dormant, dull, eclipsed, enigmatic, esoteric, flat, foul, groggy, heavy, hermetic, hibernating, hid, hidden, hush-hush, idle, immature, imperceptible, in a cloud, in a fog, in abeyance, in eclipse, in purdah, in suspense, in the wings, inactive, incommunicado, indiscernible, inert, insensible, invisible, languid, languorous, leaden, lifeless, logy, lurking, muffled, mysterious, mystic, obfuscated, obscure, obscured, occult, out of sight, passive, phlegmatic, possible, potential, quiescent, recondite, restricted, secluded, secluse, secret, sedentary, sequestered, sightless, slack, sleeping, sluggish, slumbering, smoldering, smothered, stagnant, standing, static, stifled, submerged, suppressed, suspended, tame, top secret, torpid, ulterior, unapparent, unaroused, unbeheld, unbeholdable, unbreatheable, under an eclipse, under cover, under house arrest, under security, under the surface, under wraps, underground, underlying, undiscernible, undisclosable, undisclosed, undivulgable, undivulged, unknown, unmanifested, unmatured, unnoticed, unobserved, unperceivable, unperceived, unrealized, unrevealable, unrevealed, unripe, unseeable, unseen, unspoken, untellable, untold, unutterable, unuttered, unviewed, unwhisperable, unwitnessed, veiled, viewless, virtual, wrapped in clouds
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