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[def-myoot] /ˈdɛfˈmyut/ Offensive.
unable to hear and speak.
a person who is unable to hear and speak, especially one in whom inability to speak is due to congenital or early deafness.
Origin of deaf-mute
1830-40; translation of French sourd-muet
Related forms
deaf-muteness, deaf-mutism, noun
Usage note
See dumb. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for deaf-mute
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • By this plan Maine is said to have been without a deaf-mute pauper in ten years.

    The Deaf Harry Best
  • In all cases it was the deaf-mute from birth who suffered most.

    The Deaf Harry Best
  • The deaf-mute and the blind are deprived of normal avenues to communication.

  • A thought flashed through Hugh's mind,—the man might be a deaf-mute.

    Fernley House Laura E. Richards
  • He is as silent as a deaf-mute and I have no doubt is the soul of discretion.

    Passing By Maurice Baring
  • There need be no conceit and no hypocrisy all this time in the mind of the deaf-mute.

  • They probably came to the conclusion that I was a deaf-mute.

  • Look how he had fooled them all into believing he was a deaf-mute.

    Joan of the Journal Helen Diehl Olds
  • He nodded violently and said with deaf-mute's emphasized lips, "Take her home!"

    Under the Law Edwina Stanton Babcock
British Dictionary definitions for deaf-mute


a person who is unable to hear or speak See also mute1 (sense 7), mutism (sense 2b)
unable to hear or speak
Derived Forms
deaf-muteness, deaf-mutism, noun
Usage note
Using this word to refer to people without speech is considered outdated and offensive, and should be avoided. The phrase profoundly deaf is a suitable alternative in many contexts
Word Origin
C19: translation of French sourd-muet
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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deaf-mute in Medicine

deaf-mute (děf'myōōt')
A person who can neither hear nor speak. No longer in technical use. adj. (děf-myōōt')
Unable to speak or hear.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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