Etymology: Middle English muet, mut, from Anglo-French, from mu, mute, from Latin mutus, probably from mu, representation of a muttered sound
1. unable to speak ; lacking the power of speech
2. characterized by absence of speech: as
a. felt or experienced but not expressed <touched her hand in mute sympathy> b. refusing to plead directly or stand trial <the prisoner stands mute> 3. remaining silent, undiscovered, or unrecognized 4. a. contributing nothing to the pronunciation of a word <the b in plumb is mute> b. contributing to the pronunciation of a word but not representing the nucleus of a syllable <the e in mate is mute> • mutely adverb • muteness noun II. noun Date: 1530 1. stop 9 2. a person who cannot or does not speak 3. a device attached to or inserted into a musical instrument to soften or alter its tone III. transitive verb (muted; muting) Date: 1883 1. to muffle, reduce, or eliminate the sound of 2. to tone down ; soften, subdue <mute a color> IV. intransitive verb (muted; muting) Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French *meutir, short for ameutir, alteration of Old French esmeltir, of Germanic origin; akin to Middle Dutch smelten to melt, make fluid, defecate (of birds) Date: 15th century of a bird to evacuate the cloaca
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.