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"The Silence" can refer to a number of things. Primarily, it refers to a religious order from the 52nd Century that is dedicated to ensuring the Doctor's death in order to prevent him from fulfilling a prophecy which states that "on the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the eleventh, when no living creature may speak falsely or fail to answer, a question will be asked; a question that must never, ever be answered: Doctor Who?" They believe that the Doctor must be killed before he can get to Trenzalore so that he cannot answer the Question and will therefore remain "silent" when it is asked (hence their belief that "silence must fall when the Question is asked"). (This was all stated in "Let's Kill Hitler" and "The Wedding of River Song".)


As implied above, it can also refer to the Doctor's death, which is what the Silence want to achieve. It is their goal, and to what the phrase "silence will fall" refers to. (This was stated in "The Wedding of River Song".)

A Saturnyn known as Rosanna Calvierri used the term "silence" in reference to the erasing effect of the cracks in the universe. Specifically, she said that "through some [of the cracks], we saw silence, and the end of all things." (This was stated in "The Vampires of Venice".)

Them term "Silents," which sounds almost identical to "silence," refers to the memory-proof creatures that lead the Silence. (As stated in "Day of the Moon", a single member of the species is called a "Silent," and in "The Wedding of River Song", a soldier can be heard referring to multiples as "Silents.")