Mute Mute, a. [L. mutus; cf. Gr. my`ein to shut, Skr. m[=u]ta bound, m[=u]ka dumb: cf. OE. muet, fr. F. muet, a dim. of OF. mu, L. mutus.] 1. Not speaking; uttering no sound; silent. [1913 Webster]

All the heavenly choir stood mute, And silence was in heaven. --Milton. [1913 Webster]

Note: In law a prisoner is said to stand mute, when, upon being arranged, he makes no answer, or does not plead directly, or will not put himself on trial. [1913 Webster]

2. Incapable of speaking; dumb. --Dryden. [1913 Webster]

3. Not uttered; unpronounced; silent; also, produced by complete closure of the mouth organs which interrupt the passage of breath; -- said of certain letters. See 5th {Mute}, 2. [1913 Webster]

4. Not giving a ringing sound when struck; -- said of a metal. [1913 Webster]

{Mute swan} (Zo["o]l.), a European wild white swan ({Cygnus olor} syn. {Cygnus gibbus}), which produces no loud notes, in distinction from the {Trumpeter swan}. [1913 Webster]

Syn: Silent; dumb; speechless.

Usage: {Mute}, {Silent}, {Dumb}. One is silent who does not speak; one is dumb who can not, for want of the proper organs; as, a dumb beast, etc.; and hence, figuratively, we speak of a person as struck dumb with astonishment, etc. One is mute who is held back from speaking by some special cause; as, he was mute through fear; mute astonishment, etc. Such is the case with most of those who never speak from childhood; they are not ordinarily dumb, but mute because they are deaf, and therefore never learn to talk; and hence their more appropriate name is deaf-mutes. [1913 Webster]

They spake not a word; But, like dumb statues, or breathing stones, Gazed each on other. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

All sat mute, Pondering the danger with deep thoughts. --Milton. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.


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