Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Refraining from producing speech or vocal sound.
  • adjective Offensive Unable to speak.
  • adjective Unable to vocalize, as certain animals.
  • adjective Expressed without speech; unspoken.
  • adjective Law Declining to enter a plea to a criminal charge.
  • adjective Not pronounced; silent, as the e in the word house.
  • adjective Pronounced with a temporary stoppage of breath, as the sounds (p) and (b); plosive; stopped.
  • noun Offensive One who is incapable of speech.
  • noun Law A defendant who declines to enter a plea to a criminal charge.
  • noun Music Any of various devices used to muffle or soften the tone of an instrument.
  • noun A silent letter.
  • noun A plosive; a stop.
  • transitive verb To soften or muffle the sound of.
  • transitive verb To soften the tone, color, shade, or hue of.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In numismatics, destitute of legend or means of identification beyond those furnished by heraldic or other symbolic devices.
  • noun See the quotation.
  • noun A mew for hawks.
  • noun A pack of hounds.
  • noun The cry of hounds.
  • noun The dung of fowls.
  • 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.
  • noun A person who is speechless or silent; one who does not speak, from physical inability, unwillingness, forbearance, obligation. etc.
  • noun In some Eastern countries, a dumb porter or doorkeeper, usually one who has been deprived of speech.
  • noun In theaters, one whose part is confined to dumb-show; also, a spectator; a looker-on.
  • noun In law, a person who makes no response when arraigned and called on to plead or answer.
  • noun In grammar and philology, an alphabetic utterance involving a complete closure of the mouth-organs; a. check; a stop; an explosive.
  • noun In music:
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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 pass excrement: said of birds.
  • To void, as dung: said of birds.
  • To change the feathers; mew; molt, as a bird.
  • To shed; molt, as feathers.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • verb To eject the contents of the bowels; -- said of birds.
  • noun One who does not speak, whether from physical inability, unwillingness, or other cause.
  • noun One who, from deafness, either congenital or from early life, is unable to use articulate language; a deaf-mute.
  • noun A person employed by undertakers at a funeral.

Etymologies

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

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.

Examples

  • Her eyes clung to him, her expression mute in its appeal.

    Stands a Calder Man

  • Her eyes clung to him, her expression mute in its appeal.

    Stands a Calder Man

  • On account of the great progress made, especially during the last century, in the education of deaf-mutes, by which a large percentage are taught to speak, the term mute is also omitted when speaking of matters pertaining to that class formerly designated as

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 5: Diocese-Fathers of Mercy

  • "It is what we call a mute 'e'; but it exercises a modifying influence on the preceding vowel."

    Three Men on the Bummel

  • And why the deafen silence of the normally vocal Republicans remain mute, with no loud attacks on everything the Media Imperial President has done, with no rhetorical shouting points repeated ad nauseum, just taking the high road with a few reasonable discussions over actual policy points?

    Matthew Yglesias » The Think Tank Arm of the Military-Industrial Complex

  • And why the deafen silence of the normally vocal Republicans remain mute, with no loud attacks on everything the Media Imperial President has done, with no rhetorical shouting points repeated ad nauseum, just taking the high road with a few reasonable discussions over actual policy points?

    Matthew Yglesias » The Think Tank Arm of the Military-Industrial Complex

  • She laid her hand in mute appeal upon the back of his, which turned over and became a prison.

    Jack London Play:The Scorn of Women

  • And why the deafen silence of the normally vocal Republicans remain mute, with no loud attacks on everything the Media Imperial President has done, with no rhetorical shouting points repeated ad nauseum, just taking the high road with a few reasonable discussions over actual policy points?

    Matthew Yglesias » The Think Tank Arm of the Military-Industrial Complex

  • Now it happened that while his centre of amativeness was pronounced, it had lain mute and passive during the years he lived on moose and salmon and chased glowing

    Jack London Play:The Scorn of Women

  • GLSEN — the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network — is organizing the 15th annual Day of Silence for April 16, encouraging students to remain mute during classes to call attention to verbal and physical abuse of gay students.

    Gay day of silence « Anglican Samizdat

Comments

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  • 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

  • British spelling never ceases to amaeze me.

    October 25, 2007

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

    October 25, 2007