Main definitions of mute in English

: mute1mute2

mute1

adjective

  • 1Refraining from speech or temporarily speechless.

    ‘Harry sat mute, his cheeks burning resentfully’
    • ‘In both the cases, the public remained mute spectators.’
    • ‘These intensive singing sessions are exactly that as I discovered one Tuesday evening recently, sitting in mute admiration.’
    • ‘Perhaps, accustomed as he was to hearing such queries and taunts by the driver, the conductor remained a mute spectator.’
    • ‘Police officers remained mute spectators as pedestrians, bikers, car drivers, autodrivers and other road users waited out the jams under a bright January sun.’
    • ‘‘She used to be big as a horse,’ one of the officers said to a colleague, who nodded in mute admiration.’
    • ‘All the while the police remained a mute spectator only trying to ensure that fatal injuries were not inflicted.’
    • ‘The director appears in the last shot of all the stories, a mute spectator who is a symbol of society, which is portrayed as having become insensitive to everything.’
    • ‘They stood mute spectators when irate employees chased the Vice-Chancellor of a university around the State Assembly.’
    • ‘The rest of the crowded carriage watched in mute silence.’
    • ‘At first, the watchers, except the most determined walkers and the really serious lovers, remain mute spectators.’
    • ‘The police were mute spectators to the entire incident which took place right outside the KEM hospital.’
    • ‘With this anti-intellectual attitude, I ought to be mute every time I detect scientific ignorance in a movie's story or set design.’
    • ‘I was thereafter keen to attend the classes with my brother, if only as a mute spectator.’
    silent, speechless, dumb, unspeaking, wordless, voiceless, tongue-tied, at a loss for words, tight-lipped, close-mouthed, taciturn, uncommunicative
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Not expressed in speech.
      ‘she gazed at him in mute appeal’
      • ‘With mute excitement I quickly snapped it up, paid and exited the store - only to suddenly realise that Durgnat wasn't the author I had in mind when I whipped his book off the shelf.’
      • ‘So she constructs a fantastic house of cards as a mute statement - an apparent attempt to connect with her family and explain her annoying behavior.’
      • ‘We stood and stared blankly at it in mute amazement.’
      • ‘It is easy to imagine the fear and rage and grief of the combatants, harder to see it in the cool press briefings of the leaders who make war and the often mute suffering of the populations who must endure and support it.’
      • ‘Mrs. Willis rolled her eyes toward Heaven in a mute appeal for help, while Adam laughed, put down a bag, and pushed the door open.’
      • ‘But many of the faithful, concluding that there is no smoke without fire, are simply averting their gaze in mute despair.’
      • ‘These beliefs may be wrong - the innocent who are indicted nevertheless may sit by in mute horror, and husbands who lose their families in one fell swoop may be frozen in depression as a result.’
      • ‘Of course, there was the flood of hormones which evoked embarrassed silence (and mute curses) from him; but more importantly, he knew nothing about her.’
      • ‘I've seen, as have we all, theft, fraud, intimidation, malversation - and seen it with such regularity that its absence provokes not comment but mute wonder.’
      • ‘Sara stared down at the letter in mute astonishment.’
      • ‘He looked at me in mute appeal as if I was a rope held out to a falling person.’
      • ‘She stood in mute shock, dresses draped over her arm.’
      • ‘They opposed the 16th century Spanish conquest and remained in a state of mute resistance over the years, exploding in rebellion at the end of the 18th century.’
      • ‘Dean Stockwell is often overlooked in his portrayal of Walt, but he has a difficult job here, playing off Travis's mute determination, and he succeeds admirably.’
      • ‘In the ground floor restaurants, every meal attracts a crowd of kids who press their faces against the glass in a mute appeal for food.’
      • ‘He stomped his foot to the floor and quite suddenly drew a gun to the air - the former chuckles from the crowd instantly transformed to a collectively mute distress.’
      • ‘The range was unique in that every golf range I've ever been to has golf balls lying around within a dozen feet or so of the practice tees - mute evidence of the ineptitude of those whaling away.’
      • ‘He crumbles before the mute appeal in his fellow musician's eye: ‘It felt like kicking a spaniel.’’
      • ‘When they returned home two hours later, they discovered Chris's mattress on the floor and almost in the hallway, mute testimony to the haste with which he grabbed his son out of bed.’
      • ‘An uncomfortable silence fell over the room and Andy quietly sat, her chin lifted in mute defiance, as her mother and stepfather stared at her.’
      wordless, silent, dumb, tacit, unspoken, inarticulate, unvoiced, unsaid, unexpressed, unuttered
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    2. 1.2 Characterized by an absence of sound; quiet.
      ‘the great church was mute and dark’
      • ‘Above him, attached to the wall, were 25 manual typewriters with rusted and missing parts, mute relics of an antiquated era in communication.’
      • ‘As she climbs she warily eyes dozens of tiny, mute silhouettes outlined against the windowpanes - flies awaiting the warmth of the day.’
      • ‘He didn't bother lifting his hand to search the extensive marble wall for the light switch as he removed his boots and his bare feet dragged slowly into the massive mute darkness before him.’
      • ‘We are not here to consider the appeal of mute ruins, the hollowness of reason, the veneer of American order.’
      quiet, silent, noiseless, soundless, hushed
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    3. 1.3 (of hounds) not giving tongue while hunting.
  • 2dated, offensive (of a person) lacking the faculty of speech.

    ‘he'd been bullied into silence—people often wondered if he was actually mute’
    unable to speak
    View synonyms
  • 3(of a letter) not pronounced.

    ‘mute e is generally dropped before suffixes beginning with a vowel’

noun

  • 1dated, offensive A person lacking the faculty of speech.

    ‘the child remained as silent as a mute’
    1. 1.1historical (in some Asian countries) a servant who was deprived of the power of speech.
    2. 1.2historical An actor in a dumbshow.
    3. 1.3historical A professional attendant or mourner at a funeral.
      ‘an undertaker's mute’
  • 2A clamp placed over the bridge of a stringed instrument to deaden the resonance without affecting the vibration of the strings.

    1. 2.1 A pad or cone placed in the opening of a brass or other wind instrument to soften the sound.
      • ‘The cash paid for music, a PA system and mutes for the brass section.’
      • ‘She laughed at how they were both carrying trumpets, only one had a mute in the other hand.’
      • ‘On woodwinds, a cloth bag has sometimes been tied over the instrument, and small pear-shaped wooden mutes were made to fit into 18th-century oboe bells.’
      • ‘He said there was the possibility that the disappearance of the items, which also included four red and blue glitter hats, several brass mutes and three wooden music rests, was a mistake.’
      • ‘The cone-shaped device looks like a trumpet mute.’
  • 3A device on a television, telephone, or other appliance that temporarily turns off the sound.

    • ‘The cars, the people, even birds flying through the sky were moving at a super fast pace, but the sound was on mute.’
    • ‘The T.V. went to commercial and Jaime grabbed the remote to turn the mute on.’
    • ‘‘Him’, I point at the screen as I grab the remote to turn the mute off.’
    • ‘Then the show came back on and the television was taken off mute.’
    • ‘The larger screen served at the moment as a television outlet on mute.’
    • ‘I had the television - a football game halftime show - on mute in my room.’
    • ‘Tony flicked on the TV too, but kept the sound on mute as he entered the chat room for the scheduled hack.’
    • ‘The twenty-three year old man was going through photos, the television on mute as he picked up a magazine.’
    • ‘It's also important to put your television on mute to make the most of the experience.’
    • ‘It's so close, again, that when you hear the crowds roar on the television and then hit mute, you can still hear the crowds roar, even through closed windows.’
    • ‘Maximillian watched her until she disappeared into the lift before he took the mute off the sound system.’
    • ‘He then quietly crept downstairs to get himself a drink, consciousness now having taken a hold on him, and then he flicked around the television channels on mute until his parents woke up.’
    • ‘Now she speaks but without a sound, like the television personalities on mute.’
    • ‘I was in my room, alone in the house once again, watching the television on mute.’
    • ‘Now I know that the sound of a TV on mute is an ultra high frequency sound.’
    • ‘Aimée nodded absently and sat down beside her friend just as she heard the front door open, but ignored it and took the mute off the television.’
    • ‘There are also in-use indicator lights for both talk and mute, and when mute is engaged, the user hears a ‘beep’ as an audible reminder.’
    • ‘After getting hurriedly dressed, she went to the television, put the sound on mute, and headed to a loud rock channel.’
    • ‘It has volume control, mute and push-to-talk buttons all within one housing.’

verb

[with object]
  • 1Deaden, muffle, or soften the sound of.

    ‘her footsteps were muted by the thick carpet’
    • ‘Sounds are muted with dull explosions and gunfire, and the music is very dreary.’
    • ‘For a moment, every sound was muted by the pressure of the water, of bubbles kicked up by her uninvited presence.’
    • ‘So you may not be able to completely mute the sound of the ticking clock or the voices telling you you don't know what you're doing.’
    • ‘Words were difficult to pick out, muted by the thick metal door.’
    • ‘The third can at least be muted by some dampening, and by putting sufficient thought into case design and component layout to minimise sympathetic vibrations.’
    • ‘‘The thick curtains also help mute the sound of our son's rock band rehearsals,’ says Hertz.’
    • ‘This mutes equipment noise and greatly reduces heat loss.’
    • ‘His mouth covered hers again, muting all but her most desperate of squeaks.’
    • ‘But, of course, when we cook there is no sound mixer to mute the sounds of the bacon sizzling or the sauce gurgling.’
    • ‘Then again, it was a pretty windy day, and voices were muted by the sound of the wind.’
    • ‘She screamed into the pillow pulled over her head to mute the sound.’
    • ‘Vaguely, he heard church bells from the city strike their hours, their clear sound muted by the snow and by the rose curtain draped partially over the study window.’
    • ‘The shutter locked into place, muting sounds of the waking town.’
    • ‘The ground was hard and brown and rocky, parched, but the caw of birds from a nearby grove of olive trees muted the sound of my footsteps.’
    • ‘Instead, she fell face-first into her pillow, let out a small shriek of delight that she hoped the pillow would mute, and finally looked up.’
    deaden, muffle, mask, dull, dampen, damp down, soften, quieten, silence
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    1. 1.1 Muffle the sound of (a musical instrument), especially by the use of a mute.
      ‘when muted and blown hard the trombone produces a very nasal and metallic sound’
      • ‘To keep the drums from becoming overpowering onstage and in the mix, they were muted with a set of SoundOff drum set silencers.’
      • ‘Use a keyboard which has shortcut keys for instantly muting the sound though.’
      • ‘The guitarists spend much of the show muting their strings and one of them actually sits out on a few songs, sparing the music of any clutter.’
      • ‘The ‘buff stop’ on harpsichords and early pianos, operated by a hand-lever or a pedal, mutes the strings by pressing pads of felt or leather against the them.’
    2. 1.2 Reduce the strength or intensity of.
      ‘his professional contentment was muted by personal sadness’
      • ‘He has aged remarkably well, his manic oddness (which I have always been utterly charmed by) muted by experience and dry wit.’
      • ‘But he muted his enthusiasm when it appeared that the stance might hurt his party in the elections.’
      • ‘By using blue filters that mute the intensity of bright colors, he gives his film a stark, wintry feel.’
      • ‘It is too early to tell if such aggressive measures will mute the violence or stoke it.’
      • ‘Any exuberence felt was muted by that dull pain of having hurt someone I care deeply for.’
      • ‘An author can be in danger of stifling and muting their own work, taking from it any autonomous identity.’
      • ‘You probably don't want to go too light on the effect here, because the next steps will soften the grain and mute its effect.’
      • ‘My relief at learning that I'd be staying in the same place as previous years was muted by the realization that this was the end of the line.’
      • ‘The reduced attention to politics mutes the most important way in which individual human agency drives human experience.’
      • ‘Thankfully, the painkillers were muting the pain in my belly down to a dull ache.’
      • ‘But the celebrations were muted by news that they are unlikely ever to see their children again.’
      • ‘Right now, they don't think they can win this fight so they're muting their attacks on Roberts.’
      • ‘Surprisingly Jack was a subtle presence; muting her usual impact and actually helping them do their jobs.’
      restrain, soften, subdue, tone down, make less intense, moderate, temper, soft-pedal
      View synonyms

Usage

To describe a person without the power of speech as mute (especially as in deaf mute) is today likely to cause offence and the term is often regarded as outdated. Nevertheless, there is no directly equivalent term for mute in general use, apart from speech-impaired. Profoundly deaf may be used to imply that a person has not developed any spoken language skills

Origin

Middle English: from Old French muet, diminutive of mu, from Latin mutus.

Pronunciation

mute

/mjuːt/

Main definitions of mute in English

: mute1mute2

mute2

noun

archaic
  • A pack of hounds.

    ‘the abbot had a mute of hounds’
    • ‘This mute of hounds, dashing all over the pace, split the morning air with enough hideous din to frighten any fox out of the commune.’
    • ‘He ordered them to stay the proceedings for the recovery of a horse with a saddle and bridle, a hat, a cloak, a ring, a cup, and a mute of hounds.’
    • ‘Wellington's modest mute of hounds accompanied their owner on his journey.’

Origin

Late Middle English: from Anglo-Norman mut, mute, moute ‘pack of hounds trained for hunting’, from Latin movere ‘to move’.

Pronunciation

mute

/mjuːt/