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1. Present or potential but not evident or active: latent talent. See Synonyms at inactive.
2. Medicine Present but not symptomatic: a latent virus.
3. Biology Being in a condition of biological rest or inactivity characterized by cessation of growth or development and the suspension of many metabolic processes: a latent bud.
4. Psychology Present and accessible in the unconscious mind but not consciously expressed.
A fingerprint that is not apparent to the eye but can be made sufficiently visible, as by dusting or fuming, for use in identification.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin latēns, latent-, present participle of latēre, to lie hidden.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.