from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Refraining from producing speech or vocal sound.
  • adj. Often Offensive Unable to speak.
  • adj. Unable to vocalize, as certain animals.
  • adj. Expressed without speech; unspoken: a mute appeal.
  • adj. Law Refusing to plead when under arraignment.
  • adj. Linguistics Not pronounced; silent, as the e in the word house.
  • adj. Linguistics Pronounced with a temporary stoppage of breath, as the sounds (p) and (b); plosive; stopped.
  • n. Often Offensive One who is incapable of speech.
  • n. Law A defendant who refuses to plead when under arraignment.
  • n. Music Any of various devices used to muffle or soften the tone of an instrument.
  • n. Linguistics A silent letter.
  • n. Linguistics A plosive; a stop.
  • transitive v. To soften or muffle the sound of.
  • transitive v. To soften the tone, color, shade, or hue of.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The faeces of a hawk or falcon.
  • v. To silence, to make quiet.
  • v. To turn off the sound of.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Not speaking; uttering no sound; silent.
  • adj. Incapable of speaking; dumb.
  • adj. Not uttered; unpronounced; silent; also, produced by complete closure of the mouth organs which interrupt the passage of breath; -- said of certain letters. See 5th Mute, 2.
  • adj. Not giving a ringing sound when struck; -- said of a metal.
  • n. The dung of birds.
  • n. One who does not speak, whether from physical inability, unwillingness, or other cause.
  • n. One who, from deafness, either congenital or from early life, is unable to use articulate language; a deaf-mute.
  • n. A person employed by undertakers at a funeral.
  • n. A person whose part in a play does not require him to speak.
  • n. Among the Turks, an officer or attendant who is selected for his place because he can not speak.
  • n. A letter which represents no sound; a silent letter; also, a close articulation; an element of speech formed by a position of the mouth organs which stops the passage of the breath.
  • n. A little utensil made of brass, ivory, or other material, so formed that it can be fixed in an erect position on the bridge of a violin, or similar instrument, in order to deaden or soften the tone.
  • v. To eject the contents of the bowels; -- said of birds.
  • transitive v. To cast off; to molt.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Silent; not speaking; not uttering words.
  • Incapable of utterance; not having the power of speech; dumb; hence, done, made, etc., without speech or sound.
  • In grammar and philology:
  • Silent; not pronounced: as, the b in dumb is mute.
  • Involving a complete closure of the mouth-organs in, utterance: said of certain alphabetic sounds: see II., 2.
  • In mineralogy, applied to metals which do not ring when struck.
  • In entomology, not emitting audible sounds: opposed to sonant, stridulating, shrilling, etc.: said of insects.
  • Showing no sign; devoid; destitute.
  • Synonyms and Dumb, etc. See silent.
  • n. A person who is speechless or silent; one who does not speak, from physical inability, unwillingness, forbearance, obligation. etc.
  • n. In some Eastern countries, a dumb porter or doorkeeper, usually one who has been deprived of speech.
  • n. In theaters, one whose part is confined to dumb-show; also, a spectator; a looker-on.
  • n. In law, a person who makes no response when arraigned and called on to plead or answer.
  • n. In grammar and philology, an alphabetic utterance involving a complete closure of the mouth-organs; a. check; a stop; an explosive.
  • n. In music:
  • n. In stringed musical instruments of the viol family, a clip or weight of brass, wood, or ivory that can be slipped over the bridge so as to deaden the resonance without touching the strings; a sordino.
  • n. In metal wind-instruments, a pear-shaped leathern pad which can be inserted into the bell to check the emission of the tone.
  • In music, to deaden or muffle the sound of, as an instrument. See mute, n., 3.
  • To check fermentation in. See mutage.
  • To change the feathers; mew; molt, as a bird.
  • To shed; molt, as feathers.
  • To pass excrement: said of birds.
  • To void, as dung: said of birds.
  • In numismatics, destitute of legend or means of identification beyond those furnished by heraldic or other symbolic devices.
  • n. A mew for hawks.
  • n. A pack of hounds.
  • n. The cry of hounds.
  • n. The dung of fowls.
  • n. See the quotation.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. deaden (a sound or noise), especially by wrapping
  • adj. expressed without speech
  • n. a deaf person who is unable to speak
  • n. a device used to soften the tone of a musical instrument
  • adj. unable to speak because of hereditary deafness


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English muet, from Old French, from diminutive of mu, from Latin mūtus.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman muet, moet, Middle French muet, from mu ("dumb, mute") + -et, remodelled after Latin mūtus.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle French muetir, probably a shortened form of esmeutir, ultimately from Proto-Germanic.



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  • It's true! It's like reading a foreign encyclopaedia.

    October 25, 2007

  • British spelling never ceases to amaeze me.

    October 25, 2007

  • Acc. to OED: Chiefly falconry. The action or an act of muting. Also concr. (in sing. and pl.): bird dung. (Muting being said of a hawk, "to expel faeces."

    See also mutess.

    October 25, 2007