Definition of silicon in US English:



  • The chemical element of atomic number 14, a nonmetal with semiconducting properties, used in making electronic circuits. Pure silicon exists in a shiny dark gray crystalline form and as an amorphous powder.

    Silicon is used in some alloys, but its great importance is in making electronic circuits. After oxygen, silicon is the most abundant element in the earth's crust; most rocks consist primarily of silica or silicates, and glass, pottery, and bricks are largely composed of silicate minerals

    • ‘The most common technology for harvesting energy from sunlight is the photovoltaic cell based on silicon.’
    • ‘Diamond behaves like silicon when you place it at very high temperatures and pressures.’
    • ‘Silicosis is caused when silicon, fine particles of rock, enters the lungs and cuts lung tissue.’
    • ‘Normally silicon does not emit light as it has an indirect energy band gap.’
    • ‘As silicon doesn't conduct electricity, impurities are added so it becomes a conductor.’


Early 19th century: alteration of earlier silicium, from Latin silex, silic- ‘flint’, on the pattern of carbon and boron.