Silent Sam

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See also: silent Sam


Alternative forms[edit]


From silent (speechless, mute) + Sam (diminutive of male given name Samuel). From ante 1920.


  • IPA(key): /ˌsaɪlənt ˈsæm/
  • (file)


Silent Sam (plural Silent Sams)

  1. (informal, sometimes used attributively) A person who seldom or never speaks; a taciturn or unresponsive individual.
    • 1983, "Sam Pierce Hangs Tough," Black Enterprise, vol. 13, no. 8 (Mar.), p. 43:
      But because Pierce has usually avoided the news media and gone about his work in the quiet behind-the-scenes way that brought him eminence as a top New York City litigator, the press has derisively tagged him "Silent Sam."
    • 2002, Jack Womack, Going, Going, Gone[1], →ISBN, page 47:
      Now he threw the Silent Sam treatment on me.
    • 2008, Sara Pope, Team Leader Workbook, →ISBN, p. 4-31:
      It's hard to get input from the Silent Sam even with a direct question—this person just doesn't have anything to say.
    • 2011, Linda Carter Sobell, Mark B. Sobell, Group Therapy for Substance Use Disorders, →ISBN, p. 205:
      With Silent Sam clients it is important for group leaders to make active and continuous efforts to get them involved in the group.
  2. (informal, by extension) A machine, device, etc. which operates without making noticeable sound.
    • 1919, Victor Appleton, chapter 17, in Tom Swift and His Air Scout:
      "I've named my new noiseless aeroplane—Army Air Scout—I've named that Silent Sam. Wait until you hear it, or rather, don't hear it, and I think you'll agree with me. Silent Sam for Uncle Sam!"
    • 1977, Richard West, "Reporter: Law and Order," Texas Monthly, vol 5, no. 7 (July), p. 64:
      Or if you're a coward, there's Silent Sam ($1950), an automated early-warning safety robot flagman.
  3. (informal) A mixed alcoholic beverage, usually containing vodka, a cola soft drink, and other ingredients.
    • 2010, "Silent Sam Mix Cocktail Recipe," (retrieved 20 April 2011):
      Ingredients: 13 oz vodka, 1 liter cola, (pepsi, coca cola...), 6-10 scoops iced tea. . . . Add all ingredients to a punch bowl.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Usage was popularized by the wordless Silent Sam comic strip, created by Oscar Jacobsson in 1920. However, there were earlier usages, especially as a nickname for sports celebrities.


See also[edit]