Definition of cone of silence in US English:

cone of silence


  • 1An imaginary device that prevents eavesdropping on a private conversation.

    • ‘So the closet in professional sport is literally a massive cone of silence and the door swings both ways in gender bias.’
    • ‘However he might be advised to use the cone of silence from time to time.’
    • ‘A cone of silence descended over the large crowd gathered at the stage while one of the greatest shooters in the world frantically tried to clear his gun.’
    • ‘Our spy in the Press Gallery breaks the cone of silence surrounding the party room spin.’
    • ‘The surly Queenslander has brought down the cone of silence, apparently, because he has the pip with the way the media has handled his decision to banish a promising youngster to Toowoomba.’
    • ‘Residents and the media were denied access to the roads that service the area, creating a virtual cone of silence.’
    • ‘Big companies with the highest classifications of sensitive information are sufficiently compartmentalized, while noninvolved company business goes on outside the cone of silence.’
    • ‘In this kind of situation, touchy subjects are skirted and cones of silence descend.’
    • ‘The second sound that intrudes into the embattled cop's cone of silence is the splashing of his would-be killer's blood onto the floor.’
    1. 1.1 An electronic device or isolated room intended for the same purpose.
      • ‘The cone of silence, called Babble, is actually a device composed of a sound processor and several speakers that multiply and scramble voices that come within its range.’
  • 2A directive that prohibits oral communication about a specified subject.

    • ‘Less amusing is the cone of silence too often used these days by public companies.’
    • ‘The latter may well involve the use of firewalls, cones of silence, and other appropriate techniques.’
    • ‘Adding to the intrigue is ‘NW owner Corus' dropping of the cone of silence on the affair.’
    1. 2.1 An agreement or conspiracy to maintain secrecy about a subject.
      • ‘But he tosses aside the cone of silence that party faithful maintain around their president.’
      • ‘Sure, the Liberals are a broad church, but Howard's predecessor Malcolm Fraser did do the right thing according to the fundamental tenets of Liberalism, albeit under a cone of silence.’
      • ‘Will the scandal - and CBS's reluctant willingness to break the cone of silence about the use of torture - finally lead to a serious investigation?’
      • ‘It was a crime that was protected by a cone of silence.’
      • ‘‘When a complaint is made about violence, it should not be the subject of a cone of silence in the club or amongst those who may have information,’ Costello said.’
      • ‘I am in the usual cone of silence, which is so reminiscent of June 1 2001 it is sickening.’
      • ‘Since we have pre-paid parking, I should be able to get out fast afterwards and maintain the cone of silence concerning the game's result until I get safely home.’
      • ‘The Treasurer attacked the league over what he said was a cone of silence surrounding allegations of sexual assault at the launch of a campaign targeting violence against women.’
      • ‘I hope Edwards has more success in getting the truth out of Howard than we journos, who've been unable to penetrate Howard spin doctors' cone of silence.’


1960s: originally a fantasy prop in the television series Get Smart.