moot and mute - the difference

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
Moot most commonly means debatable. It can also mean purely academic.

Mute most commonly means speechless or silent.

There are also corresponding verbs (to moot and to mute). More below.

Moot and Mute

There is often confusion over the words moot and mute. Although they sound similar, their meanings are different.


As an adjective, moot means open to discussion, debatable, or doubtful.
  • It is a moot point.
  • (This is the most common meaning of moot. Also, moot point is the most common term featuring the word moot.)
As an adjective, moot can also mean of little or no practical value, purely academic or purely theoretical.
  • It is a moot case.
  • (It could, for example, be a case set up so law students can practise court procedures.)
Although rare, moot can also be used as a verb which corresponds to either of the meanings above.
  • I intend to moot this issue.
  • (I intend to present this issue for debate.)
  • We ought to moot this issue.
  • (We ought to render this issue purely theoretical.)


As an adjective, mute means silent, speechless, refraining from speech, or quiet.
  • Shocked to the core, he was now mute.
  • Bonzo looked at the diners from his basket with mute longing.
  • It was an eerily mute village.
  • The letter P is mute.
  • (It's not pronounced.)
As an noun, mute is a a person without the power of speech, a button to turn off the sound, or a device placed on an instrument to deaden the resonance.
  • He is a mute.
  • Press the mute.
  • It sounds awesome with the mute on.
As an verb, mute means to deaden or to muffle the sound of something.
  • The sodden bed of pine needles muted her footsteps as she approached the stag.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? Ms., Miss, or Mrs? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are adjectives? What are nouns? What are verbs? List of easily confused words