silent majority

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English[edit]

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Noun[edit]

silent majority (plural silent majorities)

  1. (chiefly US, politics) The largest portion of a demographic group or of the population of a political jurisdiction, which is considered to possess political and social views that are not openly declared, but that can nevertheless significantly affect voting patterns and social behavior.
    • 1969 Nov. 21, "Nation: The Politics of Polarization," Time:
      Nixon took the field against his critics in his Nov. 3 plea to "the silent majority'" for backing of his Viet Nam policy.
    • 1998 June 7, Judith Levine, "What Went Wrong on the Way to Integration" (book review of Someone Else's House by Tamar Jacoby), Businessweek (retrieved 13 Aug 2012):
      As for leadership, she applauds New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, whose stern law and order policies have won over the "black silent majority," she says.
    • 2012 July 27, Hiroko Tabuchi, "In Conservative Japan Enclave, Antinuclear Candidate Gains Ground," New York Times (retrieved 13 Aug 2012):
      He has argued, however, that the demonstrations do not represent the silent majority of Japanese (presumably including those in the heartland) who are too anxious about the economy to give up on nuclear energy.
  2. (archaic, euphemistic) Those who are dead.
    • 1884 October, George F. Williams, “Lights and Shadows of Army Life”, The Century Magazine, volume 28, number 6, page 819: 
      Each man in the long line knows that if an advance is made some of them will not see the sun set, and he cannot shake off the feeling that perhaps his turn has come to join the silent majority.
    • 1899 February, J. A. Benson, “X. A Witch”, The Land Magazine, volume 3, number 2, page 154: 
      How the mind strives to recollect the true form and features of those old folk who departed from us to join the silent majority before they were plainly photographed upon our childish memories.
    • 1907, Andy Adams, Reed Anthony: Cowman, ch. 21:
      Two decades have passed since those words, rebuking wrong in high places, were uttered, and the speaker has since passed over to the silent majority.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Popularized in contemporary usage by U.S. President Richard Nixon in a speech on November 3, 1969.

Antonyms[edit]

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