Commonly Confused Words: Moot vs. Mute

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What does each word mean?

If something is moot, it is open to argument or debate. Moot can also be used to describe something that is insignificant or irrelevant.Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is moot used in an example sentence:

  • It was a moot point.

Click here to create a Spellzone vocabulary list using the word moot.

The verb mute describes the act of muffling or silencing a noise. As a noun, mute is used to refer to both someone who is unable to speak and something used to soften the sound of an instrument. As an adjective, the word describes someone who is unable to speak.

Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is mute used in some example sentences:

  • He muted the television while the commercials were on.
  • The man was as silent as a mute.
  • She stood there, mute, while as she processed what her friend was saying.

Click here to find Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word mute.

Where does each word come from?

Moot derives from the Old English ‘motian’ which means ‘to meet, talk, discuss’. The word has been used in English since the twelfth century.

Mute first entered English as ‘mewet’ in the late fourteenth century from the Old French ‘muet’ meaning ‘dumb, mute’. By the 1570s the word was used to describe a ‘stage actor in a dumb show’ and by the 1610s to a ‘person who does not speak’. The word was first used in reference something that muted a musical instrument in 1811 and later to describe the act of muffling a sound in 1861.

Are there any tricks to help remember the difference between moot and mute?

Use rhyming words to help you remember the spellings of each word:

  • moot rhymes with boot
  • mute rhymes with cute.


What words do you constantly mix up? Let us know and we’ll cover them in our Commonly Confused Words series.

Sources: The Online Etymology Dictionary.

30 Jan 2018
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Terrie Penrose-Toms, Casterton College