Moot - mute

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Do not confuse (as too many people do) these useful words.

Their pronunciation is similar in some accents, particularly many in the USA. In RP and other voices that you will hear in British Higher Education, the two words have clearly different sounds. The vowel of mute is markedly the sound of 'you' (IPA: /ju:/). The vowel of moot is a plain '-oo' sound (IPA: /u:/), with no -y- (IPA: /j/).

  • Mute is an adjective which means 'dumb' - unable to speak. (You can usually use 'silent' instead.)
  • Moot, as an adjective, means 'that can be argued; debatable; not decided, doubtful' (OED). It comes from a very old noun, a moot, which means a meeting or an assembly of a particular kind, for debate. So something that you want to be discussed, or an assumption that you want to challenge, is a moot point. It is never a mute point. There is also a verb to moot, which nowadays means only 'to raise or bring forward (a point, question, subject, etc.) for discussion' (OED).