• synonyms


  1. unable to hear and speak.
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  1. a person who is unable to hear and speak, especially one in whom inability to speak is due to congenital or early deafness.
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Origin of deaf-mute

1830–40; translation of French sourd-muet
Related formsdeaf-mute·ness, deaf-mut·ism, noun

Usage note

See dumb.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for deaf-mutism

Historical Examples of deaf-mutism

  • My impression was that there were several cases of deaf-mutism in the village.

    In Indian Mexico (1908)

    Frederick Starr

  • The same may be said of feigned insanity, aphonia, deaf-mutism, and loss of memory.

  • Moreover, Meckel has found that deaf-mutism is more frequently met with in flour-mills than elsewhere.

  • Deaf-mutism is so varied that frequently two unrelated deaf mutes may have hearing children.

  • In fact we are tempted to jump at the conclusion that consanguinity is in itself a cause of deaf-mutism.

British Dictionary definitions for deaf-mutism


  1. a person who is unable to hear or speakSee also mute 1 (def. 7), mutism (def. 2b)
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  1. unable to hear or speak
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Derived Formsdeaf-muteness or deaf-mutism, noun

Word Origin for deaf-mute

C19: translation of French sourd-muet


Using this word to refer to people without speech is considered outdated and offensive, and should be avoided.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
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

deaf-mutism in Medicine


  1. A person who can neither hear nor speak. No longer in technical use.
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  1. Unable to speak or hear.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.