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"Moot" Versus "Mute"

What’s the Tie-In to the Harry Potter Wizengamot?

By
Mignon Fogarty
Episode #285

A fan who shall remain nameless wrote to me with this problem: "In negotiations today, a union rep provided me with handouts of proposals she'd labeled 'mute.' Help!"

Presumably, the union rep meant “moot,” not “mute.”

“Moot” is an adjective that generally means something is isn’t relevant anymore.

One of my favorite episodes of the sitcom "Friends" is when Joey says something that doesn’t matter anymore is "moo." I never get tired of that..

“Moot” Versus “Mute”

It's not very common to hear people say something that doesn't matter is "moo," but it is quite common for people to think the word is "mute." The correct word when you're talking about something that doesn't matter anymore is "moot," especially in America, but you may be surprised to learn that it wasn't always so straightforward, and that it can carry a different meaning in other parts of the world.

What’s the Origin of “Moot”?

To find the origin of the word "moot," we have to go all the way back to the 12th century when a meeting or assembly of lawyers, or the place they met, was called a moot.

Believe it or not, we have a Harry Potter tie-in.

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About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show.

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