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mute

[myoot] /myut/
adjective, muter, mutest.
1.
silent; refraining from speech or utterance.
2.
not emitting or having sound of any kind.
3.
incapable of speech; dumb.
4.
(of letters) silent; not pronounced.
5.
Law. (of a person who has been arraigned) making no plea or giving an irrelevant response when arraigned, or refusing to stand trial (used chiefly in the phrase to stand mute).
6.
Fox Hunting. (of a hound) hunting a line without giving tongue or cry.
noun
7.
Offensive. a person incapable of speech.
8.
an actor whose part is confined to dumb show.
9.
Law. a person who stands mute when arraigned.
10.
Also called sordino. a mechanical device of various shapes and materials for muffling the tone of a musical instrument.
11.
Phonetics. a stop.
12.
British Obsolete. a hired mourner at a funeral; a professional mourner.
verb (used with object), muted, muting.
13.
to deaden or muffle the sound of.
14.
to reduce the intensity of (a color) by the addition of another color.
Origin of mute
1325-1375
1325-75; < Latin mūtus dumb; replacing Middle English muet < Middle French, equivalent to Old French mu (< Latin mūtus) + unexplained suffix -et; cf. -et
Related forms
mutely, adverb
muteness, noun
Can be confused
moot, mute.
Antonyms
1. talkative.
Usage note
See dumb.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for muteness
Historical Examples
  • Rhoda, with a sign, tempered him to muteness, and the three eyed one another.

    Rhoda Fleming, Complete George Meredith
  • So, in her muteness, Esther accepts the Brandon God and people as hers.

    Red as a Rose is She Rhoda Broughton
  • Fleda paid this statement the homage of a minute's muteness.

    The Spoils of Poynton Henry James
  • Plunged in their discussions, the others were a long while in remarking his muteness.

    Pierre and Luce Romain Rolland
  • By these last words Edward Henry was confounded, even to muteness.

    The Regent E. Arnold Bennett
  • One felt her, was repulsed or possessed by her, even in her muteness.

    The Wheel of Life

    Ellen Anderson Gholson Glasgow
  • For a day or two he persevered in his muteness, uttering a word only when it could not be avoided.

    New Grub Street George Gissing
  • After a long while I turned around in the muteness of my despair.

    Police!!! Robert W. Chambers
  • The silence became stricken with awe, with the interminable and unanswering awe—the muteness of death.

  • He was silent; and his muteness spoke the foreboding and dread with which he faced another bitter night in the pines.

    Wild Life Near Home Dallas Lore Sharp
British Dictionary definitions for muteness

mute1

/mjuːt/
adjective
1.
not giving out sound or speech; silent
2.
unable to speak; dumb
3.
unspoken or unexpressed: mute dislike
4.
(law) (of a person arraigned on indictment) refusing to answer a charge
5.
(phonetics) another word for plosive
6.
(of a letter in a word) silent
noun
7.
a person who is unable to speak
8.
(law) a person who refuses to plead when arraigned on indictment for an offence
9.
any of various devices used to soften the tone of stringed or brass instruments
10.
(phonetics) a plosive consonant; stop
11.
a silent letter
12.
an actor in a dumb show
13.
a hired mourner at a funeral
verb (transitive)
14.
to reduce the volume of (a musical instrument) by means of a mute, soft pedal, etc
15.
to subdue the strength of (a colour, tone, lighting, etc)
Derived Forms
mutely, adverb
muteness, 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
C14: muwet from Old French mu, from Latin mūtus silent

mute2

/mjuːt/
verb
1.
(of birds) to discharge (faeces)
noun
2.
birds' faeces
Word Origin
C15: from Old French meutir, variant of esmeltir, of Germanic origin; probably related to smelt1 and melt
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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Word Origin and History for muteness
n.

1580s, from mute (adj.) + -ness.

mute

adj.

late 14c., mewet "silent," from Old French muet "dumb, mute" (12c.), diminutive of mut, mo, from Latin mutus "silent, speechless, dumb," probably from imitative base *meue- (cf. Sanskrit mukah "dumb," Greek myein "to be shut," of the mouth). Form assimilated in 16c. to Latin mutus.

mute

v.

"deaden the sound of," 1861, from mute (n.). Related: Muted; muting.

mute

n.

1570s, "stage actor in a dumb show;" 1610s as "person who does not speak," from mute (adj.). Musical sense first recorded 1811 of stringed instruments, 1841, of horns.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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muteness in Medicine

mute (myōōt)
adj.
Unable or unwilling to speak. n.
One who does not have the faculty of speech. No longer in technical use, considered offensive.

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