Writing for Business

Jul 15 2009   6:57PM GMT

Which is correct — moot or mute?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

typing Which is correct?
No matter how important your message is, if you don’t choose the right delivery channel, the point is ____.
a. mute
b. moot

Answer: b

Explanation: Moot, in this context, means irrelevant or inapplicable. Mute, on the other hand, means silent.

Have you ever heard someone refer to a “mute point?” I have. It makes sense, in a way, because if a point isn’t heard, it can’t have an impact. Nevertheless, the expression is “moot point.”

The meanings, while not the same, have enough commonality to make them confusing. I suspect, in fact, that there are those among us who think they’re the same word and secretly feel superior to those of us going around mispronouncing “mute” as “moot.”

The Language Rules blog discusses mute versus moot.

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