They are words that are bigger than their meaning. Some words can be harsh and frightening as well as soothing even loving. It all depends on how it is said. By virtue of the inflection or the volume, even the speaker can give the meaning of the word an entirely different connotation.

Let me set up a scenario. A young child is walking through a dark and foreboding forest. She can see a light ahead and knows that she’ll be safe momentarily. And then she hears a voice and one single word. It stops her in her tracts. The word is spoken loudly by a deep guttural voice. All sound is cut off sharply the moment the word is spoken and it fills her with terror. The word? Silence!

Different scenario. Two boys are in a library and they are misbehaving. A whispered, even hissed, single word stops them in their tracks. It is spoken by a frustrated, perhaps harried retiree. The word? Silence.

And just for fun, one more scenario. A young man and his beautiful bride have just left their raucous wedding guests. They’re looking forward to their first night as husband and wife. They race for the door to their suite. They burst into their room and she falls across the bed laughing. He leans against the door panting. He looks at the beautiful woman across from him and utters one word, grinning like a Cheshire cat. That word? Silence . . .

Same word, same meaning, different implication. Don’t you just love the English language? Precise it ain’t!


This little foray into the wonderful world of words was inspired by Linda G Hill. And doesn’t she just inspire a lot of us. This one’s for you Linda!


7 thoughts on “Silence!

  1. scottishmomus

    One more scenario. Class of twenty odd kids coming in first thing, noisy, excited. Teacher, ‘Listen.’ Everyone stops to listen, wondering what they’re listening for. Questioning looks. A minute passes. A minute of utter silence. All around. Only lasts a wee while right enough.
    Our language is amazing, Pam. We can even make things happen with one word. Silence is one of my favourites. 🙂



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