1[mass noun] Inability to speak, typically as a result of congenital deafness or brain damage.
- ‘Damage can occur to the basal ganglia or to the frontal lobes (behind the brow) which control initiation of speech, causing mutism when damaged.’
- 1.1Unwillingness or refusal to speak, arising from psychological causes such as depression or trauma.
- ‘Some were 9 and practiced selective mutism; they chose to not talk - to not say one word ever - during school.’
- ‘A 14-year-old boy with a pre-existing history of autism exhibited stupor with mutism, akinesia, rigidity, waxy flexibility, posturing, facial grimacing and involuntary movements of the upper extremities.’
- ‘Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder that is usually specific to certain settings, such as a school classroom.’
- ‘Selective mutism would manifest only in particular social situations rather than globally.’
- ‘Others suffered from psychoneurotic symptoms alone - mutism, loss of speech, hysterical twitching, and uncontrollable jerkings of arms and legs.’
Early 19th century: from French mutisme, from Latin mutus mute.