selective mutism

noun

Medical Definition of selective mutism

: an anxiety disorder of childhood characterized by consistent failure to speak in specific social settings (as at school) despite having the ability to speak normally in other settings (as at home) If your child talks a lot at home but clams up at school—not uttering a word or even a laugh—she may have selective mutism, an extreme manifestation of anxiety.Scholastic Parent and Child, February/March 2006

called also elective mutism

Learn More about selective mutism

Cite this Entry

“Selective mutism.” Merriam-Webster.com Medical Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/selective%20mutism. Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

Comments on selective mutism

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!