[ moot ]
/ mut /


verb (used with object)


Origin of moot

before 900; Middle English mot(e) meeting, assembly, Old English gemōt; cognate with Old Norse mōt, Dutch gemoet meeting. See meet1


moot·er, nounmoot·ness, noun


moot mute

historical usage of moot

The modern noun moot comes from the Old English mōt “meeting, court,” typically used in compounds such as gemōt “(legislative or judicial) assembly, council,” folcmōt, folcgemōt “popular assembly (of a town or shire),” and witena gemōt “assembly of wise men.” Nouns in other Germanic languages related to mōt include Old Saxon mōt (Old Saxon was the earliest recorded form of Low German; it was spoken in northern Germany, the northeastern Netherlands, and southern Denmark) and Middle High German muoz. All of these nouns derive from Germanic mōta-, from which was derived the verb mōtjan, which becomes mōtian in Old Saxon, mētan and moeta in Old English, and meet in modern English.
In 16th-century England, a moot was “a hypothetical case or point for law students to practice on.” This is where we get the terms moot point and moot court. Moot later developed the sense “open to discussion, debatable, doubtful,” and finally “impossible to be settled.” In American legal usage in the first half of the 19th century, moot developed an additional sense “having no effect, purely academic, abstract” (now used only outside legal contexts), but American usage also retained the original sense “remaining open for debate or consideration,” leaving the meaning of moot point in conversation up for grabs: Is it a debatable point, or irrelevant? Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for moot point

/ (muːt) /


subject or open to debatea moot point


(tr) to suggest or bring up for debate
(intr) to plead or argue theoretical or hypothetical cases, as an academic exercise or as vocational training for law students


a discussion or debate of a hypothetical case or point, held as an academic activity
(in Anglo-Saxon England) an assembly, mainly in a shire or hundred, dealing with local legal and administrative affairs

Derived forms of moot

mooter, noun

Word Origin for moot

Old English gemōt; compare Old Saxon mōt, Middle High German muoze meeting
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

Idioms and Phrases with moot point

moot point

A debatable question, an issue open to argument; also, an irrelevant question, a matter of no importance. For example, Whether Shakespeare actually wrote the poem remains a moot point among critics, or It's a moot point whether the chicken or the egg came first. This term originated in British law where it described a point for discussion in a moot, or assembly, of law students. By the early 1700s it was being used more loosely in the present sense.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.