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.

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


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