Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to muteness: Apraxia of Speech


adj. mut·er, mut·est
1. Refraining from producing speech or vocal sound.
a. Offensive Unable to speak.
b. Unable to vocalize, as certain animals.
3. Expressed without speech; unspoken: a mute appeal.
4. Law Declining to enter a plea to a criminal charge: standing mute.
5. Linguistics
a. Not pronounced; silent, as the e in the word house.
b. Pronounced with a temporary stoppage of breath, as the sounds (p) and (b); plosive; stopped.
1. Offensive One who is incapable of speech.
2. Law A defendant who declines to enter a plea to a criminal charge.
3. Music Any of various devices used to muffle or soften the tone of an instrument.
4. Linguistics
a. A silent letter.
b. A plosive; a stop.
tr.v. mut·ed, mut·ing, mutes
1. To soften or muffle the sound of.
2. To soften the tone, color, shade, or hue of.

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

mute′ly adv.
mute′ness n.
Usage Note: In reference to people who are unable to speak, mute and deaf-mute are now usually considered objectionable. Unlike blind and deaf, which are straightforward terms that need not be avoided out of fear of causing offense, mute and deaf-mute have fallen out of use and are likely to evoke older stereotypes of helplessness or pitiableness. They are especially objectionable if taken to imply that a person who cannot or does not use oral speech is thereby deprived of language. Many people who lack the ability to speak now converse through ASL or similar sign languages, which have the same communicative utility as spoken language. See Usage Note at deaf.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.muteness - the condition of being unable or unwilling to speak; "her muteness was a consequence of her deafness"
condition, status - a state at a particular time; "a condition (or state) of disrepair"; "the current status of the arms negotiations"
deaf-muteness, deaf-mutism - congenital deafness that results in inability to speak
2.muteness - a refusal to speak when expected; "his silence about my contribution was surprising"
uncommunicativeness - the trait of being uncommunicative


The avoidance of speech:
References in classic literature ?
I know that, to the common apprehension, this phenomenon of whiteness is not confessed to be the prime agent in exaggerating the terror of objects otherwise terrible; nor to the unimaginative mind is there aught of terror in those appearances whose awfulness to another mind almost solely consists in this one phenomenon, especially when exhibited under any form at all approaching to muteness or universality.
Thy muteness even is like to strangle me, thou abysmal mute one!
Even Sedley's valet, the most solemn and correct of gentlemen, with the muteness and gravity of an undertaker, could hardly keep his countenance in order, as he looked at his unfortunate master.
Edward Ello, Inclusion Advisor of Handicap International, discussed that disabilities come in many forms like blindness, muteness, deafness, autism, among others.
The resulting symptoms are states of sudden muteness, deafness, general tremor, inability to stand or walk, episodes of loss of consciousness, and convulsions.
Those storms swept her far from him -the slammed doors, the muteness, the cutting, the drugs.
In another center, people gathered for the morning ritual of listening to the news broadcast; when one day the news went silent, they turned their ritual assembly into a celebration of muteness.
Its source material is provided by Ingmar Bergman's 1966 film, which tells the story of Elisabet Vogler (Liv Ullmann), an actress who has fallen abruptly into a state of elective muteness during a performance of Electra, and Alma (Bibi Andersson), her nurse.
Prone to hysterical muteness, wolfing Xanax, and weeping copiously, Sandra embarks on her weekend odyssey for survival, to visit or phone her various coworkers, whose individual situations and reactions to her request coalesce into a composite portrait of a society fragmenting .
The logic of supporting progressive governments' putting more fossil fuel on the market requires either climate change denial, climate change muteness, or adopting an electoral platform that favors increased fossil fuel sale out of one side of its mouth while calling for decreased fossil fuels usage out of the other side.
In the chapter, Esmail justly critiques the scholarship on Collins's novel that attempts to read the heroine's muteness as symbolic of "patriarchal oppression" (86).
Violence in Gaston Kabore's Wend Kuuni (1983), is manifest in Wend Kuuni's loss of speech, his muteness, while the violence in Xala (1975) is largely allegorical.