\ ˈmyüt How to pronounce mute (audio) \
muter; mutest

Definition of mute

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 : unable to speak : lacking the power of speech
2 : characterized by absence of speech: such as
a : felt or experienced but not expressed touched her hand in mute sympathy her mute hostility
b : refusing to plead directly or stand trial the prisoner stands mute
3 : remaining silent, undiscovered, or unrecognized The hounds generally hunt mute, so they can get close to the game.
4a : contributing nothing to the pronunciation of a word the b in plumb is mute
b : contributing to the pronunciation of a word but not representing the nucleus of a syllable the e in mate is mute



Definition of mute (Entry 2 of 4)

2 sometimes offensive : a person who cannot speak
3 : a device attached to or inserted into a musical instrument to soften or alter its tone
muted; muting

Definition of mute (Entry 3 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : to muffle, reduce, or eliminate the sound of
2 : to tone down : soften, subdue mute a color
muted; muting

Definition of mute (Entry 4 of 4)

intransitive verb

of a bird
: to evacuate the cloaca

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Other Words from mute


mutely adverb
muteness noun

Synonyms for mute

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of mute in a Sentence

Adjective They hugged each other in mute sympathy. I could see a mute plea for help in his eyes. Noun I was practicing my trumpet at three in the morning when the mute fell out, and I managed to wake everyone up.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The daughter of two assassins, Cain was rendered mostly mute by years of conditioning while being trained to become an expert killing machine. Devin Fuller, New York Times, "Who Are the Birds of Prey, Exactly? A Guide to Harley Quinn’s Team," 7 Feb. 2020 Is the turn toward panpsychism a kind of neo-Romanticism born of our yearning to reënchant the world that materialism has rendered mute? Meghan O’gieblyn, The New Yorker, "Do We Have Minds of Our Own?," 4 Dec. 2019 This knob also controls gain level, mute function, and headphone volume. Popular Science, "USB microphones for easy, high-quality audio recording," 21 Jan. 2020 Here and there are mute reminders of what happened. al, "Alabama city still rebuilding a year after devastating tornado," 19 Jan. 2020 Google Home, Home Mini, Nest Mini, Home Max and Google Nest Wifi On the Google Home, press the microphone mute button on the back of the device to mute and unmute. Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY, "This simple trick stops Google, Amazon and Facebook from listening to you all the time," 31 Dec. 2019 Gerda and Kay become an adult couple severed not by death but by trauma that freezes Kay into a mute stupor. The Economist, "A new retelling of “The Snow Queen” is aimed squarely at adults," 31 Dec. 2019 Auden’s noble picture, in which the poets fight the mute ogre, can’t survive the shock of history. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "The Field Guide to Tyranny," 16 Dec. 2019 Half Life, with its immersive environment, dark humor, and Gordon Freeman, a mute MIT theoretical physicist as its protagonist, laid the groundwork for a more ambitious era of modern video games. Amrita Khalid, Quartz, "Valve unveiled the first new Half-Life game in 13 years," 21 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun For much of his first year at Washington State, Thompson was borderline mute, speaking only when asked a question. Connor Letourneau, SFChronicle.com, "Klay being Klay? Thompson’s quirky personality emerged at Washington State," 17 Jan. 2020 Jeenah Moon for The New York Times Maria Davila lay mute in a nursing home bed, an anguished expression fixed to her face, as her husband stroked her withered hand. Andrew Jacobs, New York Times, "Nursing Homes Are a Breeding Ground for a Fatal Fungus," 6 Apr. 2019 Patrolling servers are happy to advise on cooking times and flavor combinations, fetch another beer and comment on the sight of customers who are so busy cooking and slurping, conversation is put on mute. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, "Cold-weather comforts: 5 restaurants that are easy to warm up to," 11 Dec. 2019 The top keeps the standard Echo buttons: volume up, volume down, microphone mute and an Alexa-call button. Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored, "Echo Dot with Clock: A simple but useful upgrade," 18 Oct. 2019 Ellen is an 11-year-old selective mute who collaborates with God on securing her father’s death. Mary Ann Grossmann, Twin Cities, "Readers and Writers: Twin Cities Book Festival has so much you could stay all day," 5 Oct. 2019 Squads of trumpeters and trombonists, outfitted in combat gear and wearing mutes like auxiliary weapons, scampered up and down the darkened aisles. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "Karlheinz Stockhausen Composes the Cosmos," 17 June 2019 That helps avoid the desire to go on mute and have side conversations. Jenna Schnuer, Fortune, "Turn Remote Worker Pains Into Possibilities With a Pairing of Tech and Talk," 15 June 2019 This program allows a customer to put the phone on mute and patch telemarketing calls to a robot, which understands speech patterns and inflections and works to keep the caller engaged. Christopher Mele, New York Times, "Robocalls Flooding Your Cellphone? Here’s How to Stop Them," 11 May 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But in typically British fashion, the celebrations are expected to be muted. Fox News, "Brexit Day: Britain to leave EU, marking end to years-long fight to deliver on 2016 vote," 1 Feb. 2020 Traders say part of the recent pressure on agricultural prices is due to the spread of coronavirus, which is expected to mute Chinese demand as residents hunker down to avoid contracting the disease. Kirk Maltais, WSJ, "Crop Prices Dip Despite Trade Deals," 31 Jan. 2020 And although the animals made antibodies against the foreign PON1 protein, indicating an immune response, the antibody levels were too low to mute the protein’s activity against nerve agents. Jocelyn Kaiser, Science | AAAS, "Genetic modification could protect soldiers from chemical weapons," 22 Jan. 2020 The verdict will likely do little to mute criticism in Congress of the kingdom and its powerful crown prince, who has repeatedly denied that the assassination was carried out on his orders. Fortune, "Khashoggi Killers Sentenced to Death in Saudi Court," 23 Dec. 2019 The projected left tackle, who tore an Achilles’ tendon last summer, held his own in a nice battle with nose tackle Mike Pennel, and then teamed with Ted Karras to mute Chase Winovich and Byron Cowart. Jim Mcbride, BostonGlobe.com, "Patriots trade for Atlanta tight end Eric Saubert," 12 Aug. 2019 The filmmaking is strangely muted, the screenplay more intent on delivering the audience a civics lesson than in moving the soul. Barbara Vandenburgh, azcentral, "Jamie Foxx impresses in otherwise bland social justice film ‘Just Mercy’," 10 Jan. 2020 But Israeli celebrations were muted amid concerns that Israel could end up a target for Iranian retaliation. Ben Hubbard, BostonGlobe.com, "US allies in Mideast fear they may pay a price for Soleimani killing," 5 Jan. 2020 Because the criticism of the FBI was politically beneficial to Trump, Democrats who are normally quick to seize on abuses of national security power were notably muted. Ken Dilanian, NBC News, "The IG report shows the way the FBI gets warrants to spy on Americans is a mess," 10 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But, according to Hyundai, these are mostly good for muting steadily running engines. Eric Adams, Wired, "Hyundai's Luxury SUV Mixes Mics and Math for a Silent Ride," 23 Jan. 2020 The proceedings began with three fast, muted raps on the door. Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic, "Culture War in the Workplace," 13 Jan. 2020 And this has brought back the strain of Iranian discontent that was muted for a few days there -- ANDREA MITCHELL: Look at those protests. NBC News, "Meet the Press - January 12, 2020," 12 Jan. 2020 With its enemy marginalised in Iraq and troublesome protests muted, its influence in the region will only grow. The Economist, "After the assassination How Iran can respond to the killing of Qassem Suleimani," 9 Jan. 2020 In a straight line, the Alabama 101 siren is less than 2 miles away but the mountain between the two areas would have muted some of the sound, Cantrell and Parker agreed. Tribune News Service, al, "Mayor: Town Creek sirens didn’t sound before killer tornado struck," 24 Dec. 2019 Elsewhere, the lack of physicality that muted the foolery also seemed a factor affecting many actors’ deliveries. Edward Rothstein, WSJ, "‘Twelfth Night’ Review: A Bland Transposition," 11 July 2019 But so far, the reaction by the U.S. government to the passage of the citizenship act has been muted. Niha Masih, Washington Post, "Protests sweeping India emerge as significant challenge for Modi," 20 Dec. 2019 Some local officials have passed resolutions opposing the wall, but any public outcry has been muted. New York Times, "Under Construction in Texas: The First New Section of Border Wall," 8 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mute.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of mute


1513, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (1)

1883, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for mute

Adjective, Noun, and Verb (1)

Middle English muet, mut, from Anglo-French, from mu, mute, from Latin mutus, probably from mu, representation of a muttered sound

Verb (2)

Middle English, from Anglo-French *meutir, short for ameutir, alteration of Old French esmeltir, of Germanic origin; akin to Middle Dutch smelten to melt, make fluid, defecate (of birds)

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Time Traveler for mute

Time Traveler

The first known use of mute was in the 15th century

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Statistics for mute

Last Updated

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Mute.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mutest. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for mute

How to pronounce mute (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of mute

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: not able or willing to speak
: felt or expressed without the use of words



English Language Learners Definition of mute (Entry 2 of 2)

sometimes offensive : a person who cannot speak
: a device on a musical instrument (such as a trumpet) that makes its sound much softer
\ ˈmyüt How to pronounce mute (audio) \
muter; mutest

Kids Definition of mute

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : unable or unwilling to speak The shy boy sat mute through class.
2 : felt or expressed without the use of words He touched her hand in mute sympathy.



Kids Definition of mute (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a person who cannot or does not speak
2 : a device on a musical instrument that deadens, softens, or muffles its tone


muted; muting

Kids Definition of mute (Entry 3 of 3)

: to soften or reduce the sound of We muted our voices.
\ ˈmyüt How to pronounce mute (audio) \
muter; mutest

Medical Definition of mute

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: unable to speak : lacking the power of speech

Other Words from mute

muteness noun



Medical Definition of mute (Entry 2 of 2)

: one who cannot or does not speak

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More from Merriam-Webster on mute

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mute

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mute

Spanish Central: Translation of mute

Nglish: Translation of mute for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mute for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about mute

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