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[leyt-nt] /ˈleɪt nt/

present but not visible, apparent, or actualized; existing as potential:
latent ability.
Pathology. (of an infectious agent or disease) remaining in an inactive or hidden phase; dormant.
Psychology. existing in unconscious or dormant form but potentially able to achieve expression:
a latent emotion.
Botany. (of buds that are not externally manifest) dormant or undeveloped.
potential but not obvious or explicit
(of buds, spores, etc) dormant
(pathol) (esp of an infectious disease) not yet revealed or manifest
(of a virus) inactive in the host cell, its nucleic acid being integrated into, and replicated with, the host cell’s DNA
(psychoanal) relating to that part of a dream expressive of repressed desires: latent content Compare manifest (sense 2)

mid-15c., “concealed, secret,” from Latin latentem (nominative latens) “lying hid, secret, unknown,” present participle of latere “to lie hidden,” from PIE *laidh-, from root *la- “to be hidden” (cf. Greek lethe “forgetfulness, oblivion,” Old Church Slavonic lajati “to lie in wait for”). Meaning “dormant” is from 1680s.

latent la·tent (lāt’nt)


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  • Latent-period

    noun 1. Also, latency period. Pathology. the interval between exposure to a carcinogen, toxin, or disease-causing organism and development of a consequent disease. 2. Physiology. the interval between stimulus and reaction. noun 1. the incubation period of an infectious disease, before symptoms appear 2. another name for latent time latent period n. latent period

  • Latent reflex

    latent reflex n. A reflex considered as normal but which usually appears only under a pathological condition that makes its manifestation more likely.

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