mut·​ism | \ ˈmyü-ˌti-zəm How to pronounce mutism (audio) \

Definition of mutism

: the condition of being unable to speak whether from physical, functional, or psychological cause

Examples of mutism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

After being raped as a child, Maya Angelou, who taught us why the caged bird sings, experienced years of selective mutism (a disorder marked by an inability to speak in certain situations). Ola Ojewumi, SELF, "I'm Celebrating My Disabled Black Girl Magic Because I'm Done Feeling Invisible," 7 Nov. 2018 Otunga says Kylee has selective mutism — an anxiety disorder when someone who is capable of speech cannot speak in particular situations or to certain people — and rarely says very many words. Jason Duaine Hahn,, "WWE Vet David Otunga Helps His Niece, 24, Secure a Heart Transplant: We Are 'Overjoyed'," 29 Mar. 2018 After all, severe autism repels language, turns it chaotic or, in the case of autistic mutism, simply absorbs it wholesale, as a black hole does light. Eli Gottlieb,, "In 'Shtum,' parents wreck their home to find a better one for their autistic son.," 30 May 2017 Researchers say selective mutism is caused by anxiety, not stubbornness, so many parents of children with the disorder turn to psychiatric drugs. Randy Dotinga, WIRED, "Popping Pills in Preschool," 5 Feb. 2004

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mutism.' 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 mutism

1824, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for mutism

French mutisme, from Latin mutus mute

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Dictionary Entries near mutism





mutrie yellow


Mutsu Bay

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Time Traveler for mutism

The first known use of mutism was in 1824

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More Definitions for mutism


mut·​ism | \ ˈmyüt-ˌiz-əm How to pronounce mutism (audio) \

Medical Definition of mutism

: the condition of being mute whether from physical, functional, or psychological cause

More from Merriam-Webster on mutism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mutism Encyclopedia article about mutism

Comments on mutism

What made you want to look up mutism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to take the place or position of

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