Definition of mute in English:



  • 1Refraining from speech or temporarily speechless.

    ‘Irene, the talkative one, was now mute’
    • ‘Police officers remained mute spectators as pedestrians, bikers, car drivers, autodrivers and other road users waited out the jams under a bright January sun.’
    • ‘The police were mute spectators to the entire incident which took place right outside the KEM hospital.’
    • ‘All the while the police remained a mute spectator only trying to ensure that fatal injuries were not inflicted.’
    • ‘These intensive singing sessions are exactly that as I discovered one Tuesday evening recently, sitting in mute admiration.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘She used to be big as a horse,’ one of the officers said to a colleague, who nodded in mute admiration.’
    • ‘With this anti-intellectual attitude, I ought to be mute every time I detect scientific ignorance in a movie's story or set design.’
    • ‘At first, the watchers, except the most determined walkers and the really serious lovers, remain mute spectators.’
    • ‘They stood mute spectators when irate employees chased the Vice-Chancellor of a university around the State Assembly.’
    • ‘Perhaps, accustomed as he was to hearing such queries and taunts by the driver, the conductor remained a mute spectator.’
    • ‘The rest of the crowded carriage watched in mute silence.’
    • ‘I was thereafter keen to attend the classes with my brother, if only as a mute spectator.’
    • ‘In both the cases, the public remained mute spectators.’
    silent, speechless, dumb, unspeaking, wordless, voiceless, tongue-tied, at a loss for words, tight-lipped, close-mouthed, taciturn, uncommunicative
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    1. 1.1 Not expressed in speech.
      ‘she gazed at him in mute appeal’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But many of the faithful, concluding that there is no smoke without fire, are simply averting their gaze in mute despair.’
      • ‘He looked at me in mute appeal as if I was a rope held out to a falling person.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Sara stared down at the letter in mute astonishment.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She stood in mute shock, dresses draped over her arm.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We stood and stared blankly at it in mute amazement.’
      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’
      • ‘We are not here to consider the appeal of mute ruins, the hollowness of reason, the veneer of American order.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Above him, attached to the wall, were 25 manual typewriters with rusted and missing parts, mute relics of an antiquated era in communication.’
      quiet, silent, noiseless, soundless, hushed
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  • 2dated, offensive (of a person) lacking the faculty of speech.

    dumb, unable to speak
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  • 3(of a letter) not pronounced.

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


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

    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.
  • 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.
      • ‘She laughed at how they were both carrying trumpets, only one had a mute in the other hand.’
      • ‘The cash paid for music, a PA system and mutes for the brass section.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The cone-shaped device looks like a trumpet mute.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 3A device on a television, telephone, or other appliance that temporarily turns off the sound.

    ‘she put the remote on mute’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's also important to put your television on mute to make the most of the experience.’
    • ‘The cars, the people, even birds flying through the sky were moving at a super fast pace, but the sound was on mute.’
    • ‘Then the show came back on and the television was taken off mute.’
    • ‘Tony flicked on the TV too, but kept the sound on mute as he entered the chat room for the scheduled hack.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Now I know that the sound of a TV on mute is an ultra high frequency sound.’
    • ‘It has volume control, mute and push-to-talk buttons all within one housing.’
    • ‘The larger screen served at the moment as a television outlet on mute.’
    • ‘‘Him’, I point at the screen as I grab the remote to turn the mute off.’
    • ‘After getting hurriedly dressed, she went to the television, put the sound on mute, and headed to a loud rock channel.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The twenty-three year old man was going through photos, the television on mute as he picked up a magazine.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I was in my room, alone in the house once again, watching the television on mute.’
    • ‘Maximillian watched her until she disappeared into the lift before he took the mute off the sound system.’
    • ‘I had the television - a football game halftime show - on mute in my room.’
    • ‘Now she speaks but without a sound, like the television personalities on mute.’
    • ‘The T.V. went to commercial and Jaime grabbed the remote to turn the mute on.’


  • 1Deaden, muffle, or soften the sound of.

    ‘her footsteps were muted by the thick carpet’
    ‘he turns the set on, mutes the sound, but flicks through the channels’
    • ‘For a moment, every sound was muted by the pressure of the water, of bubbles kicked up by her uninvited presence.’
    • ‘Sounds are muted with dull explosions and gunfire, and the music is very dreary.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Words were difficult to pick out, muted by the thick metal door.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But, of course, when we cook there is no sound mixer to mute the sounds of the bacon sizzling or the sauce gurgling.’
    • ‘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 shutter locked into place, muting sounds of the waking town.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His mouth covered hers again, muting all but her most desperate of squeaks.’
    • ‘‘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.’
    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.
      • ‘To keep the drums from becoming overpowering onstage and in the mix, they were muted with a set of SoundOff drum set silencers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Use a keyboard which has shortcut keys for instantly muting the sound though.’
    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.’
      • ‘The reduced attention to politics mutes the most important way in which individual human agency drives human experience.’
      • ‘It is too early to tell if such aggressive measures will mute the violence or stoke it.’
      • ‘An author can be in danger of stifling and muting their own work, taking from it any autonomous identity.’
      • ‘Thankfully, the painkillers were muting the pain in my belly down to a dull ache.’
      • ‘Any exuberence felt was muted by that dull pain of having hurt someone I care deeply for.’
      • ‘By using blue filters that mute the intensity of bright colors, he gives his film a stark, wintry feel.’
      • ‘Right now, they don't think they can win this fight so they're muting their attacks on Roberts.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But he muted his enthusiasm when it appeared that the stance might hurt his party in the elections.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But the celebrations were muted by news that they are unlikely ever to see their children again.’
      • ‘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
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1 To describe a person without the power of speech as mute (especially as in deaf-mute) is today likely to cause offense and is often regarded as outdated. Nevertheless, there is no directly equivalent term for mute in general use, apart from speech-impaired. The term profoundly deaf may be used to imply that a person has not developed any spoken language skills. See also deaf mute. 2 Is it mute point or moot point? See moot


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