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[myoo-tiz-uh m] /ˈmyu tɪz əm/
noun, Psychiatry.
an inability to speak, due to a physical defect, conscious refusal, or psychogenic inhibition.
Origin of mutism
From the New Latin word mūtismus, dating back to 1815-25. See mute, -ism Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for mutism
Historical Examples
  • The most constant feature was her mutism, but even that was a few times interrupted.

    Benign Stupors August Hoch
  • Her mutism and refusal of food she was unable to account for.

    Benign Stupors August Hoch
  • Later, this was followed by mutism, refusal to eat, and stupor.

  • mutism, as used in psychiatry, is an abnormal inhibition to speech.

  • From the description this again seems to have been a typical stupor (immobility, mutism, tendency to catalepsy, rigidity).

    Benign Stupors August Hoch
  • It is not unlike the ordinary stupor in the fact that there was intense inactivity and mutism with great tenseness.

    Benign Stupors August Hoch
  • During the night she is reported to have varied between stiffness with mutism and a more relaxed state.

    Benign Stupors August Hoch
  • When deafness is associated with mutism, he thinks it is often due merely to the inattention of the stuporous state.

    Benign Stupors August Hoch
  • Dumb walls merely, their mutism leaves large scope to imagination, and one may conjecture any but the right thing.

  • Cousin Primitivo himself, with all the wisdom of the ancients, could not draw him out of his mutism.

    An Eagle Flight Jos Rizal
British Dictionary definitions for mutism


the state of being mute
  1. a refusal to speak although the mechanism of speech is not damaged
  2. the lack of development of speech, due usually to early deafness
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 mutism

"state of being mute," 1824, from French mutisme (1741), from Latin mutus (see mute (adj.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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mutism in Medicine

mutism mut·ism (myōō'tĭz'əm)
Absence of the faculty of speech.

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