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 ?
Thy muteness even is like to strangle me, thou abysmal mute one!
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.
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.
Considering Elisa's muteness, the sound is all the more powerful.
They are victims of centuries old patriarchal customary muteness, combined with century old special status of area that put them in abject poverty too.
This is a bleakness compounded of intolerance, divisiveness, violence, secrecy and muteness wrought by either voluntary prudence or involuntary fear.
He goes on to say that her muteness was triggered by, "the vapors that pass from the left side, where the liver resides, to the right side, where the heart dwelb.
Adhering her estranged "I" to fictionalized but particular histories, the poet learns to embrace muteness, to navigate unfamiliar surroundings, to" listen to the world this way:/ eyes shut tightly,/ feet slightly apart,/ arms open as if embracing gods,/ a beloved, or banana tree.
Our marriage became a feminine tomb-- chilly with the sulky muteness of
only the muteness of that House that's off from us.
That sense of togetherness remains to be seen, as Asean's penchant for unity in disunity, in opting for collective muteness in the guise of consensus, continues to rob it of relevance in issues that truly matter.
What society needs is race consciousness not "colorblindness," which functions as a way to ignore reality and rely on muteness towards problems related to race.