“Moot Point” or “Mute Point”: Quick Summary
Moot point is commonly used to refer to something “irrelevant, insignificant, or impractical.” But it can also mean “an issue that is open for discussion or argument.” Mute point is an incorrect spelling of the phrase.
Table of Contents
If you’re like us, then you’d agree that, as grammarians, there’s nothing worse than being corrected on our vocabulary. But occasionally, English makes it too easy to mistakenly use one word instead of another. Case in point: saying mute point instead of moot point.
The issue here is that not many people know what the word moot means or that it even exists, which leads to the common mistake of saying mute point.
If you want to avoid making this error, but you’re still unsure about moot point, don’t worry. We’ll clarify the confusion around this phrase and teach you how to use it correctly from here on out.
“Moot Point” Definition
Today, a moot point typically refers to “an argument on a topic that is irrelevant or has no practical significance in the current context.” Simply put, a moot point is unrelated or insignificant to the discussed subject.
She fell in love with the orange dress, so whether the red one was on sale was a moot point.
But the phrase moot point can carry another meaning, especially in British English. To thoroughly understand the different uses of moot point, we must review the historical and legal context of the word moot.
Using moot as a verb is uncommon, but lawyers occasionally still employ this expression to mean “to present a topic for debate.”
She mooted the idea of expanding the company’s reach.
As an adjective, moot describes something as “debatable” or “open to discussion.” It’s more closely related to its archaic use as a noun, which in medieval England referred to an assembly in which local leaders and influential community members would gather to discuss matters of law and justice. Typically, moot functions as a modifier, as in the case of a moot court, which was a mock trial in which students posed as lawyers.
Which leads us to moot point. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, in the 19th century, moot point referred to an unresolved dispute that was appropriate for law-school debate (like that which we mentioned earlier). But by the early 20th century, it started carrying a new sense: it referred to issues that were insignificant or impractical, seeing as the outcome of this fake trial wouldn’t change anything in the real world.
All this to say, a moot point can also refer to “a matter in which there may be a difference of opinion and therefore be debatable.”
Whether pineapple belongs on pizza is a moot point because some people love it while others despise it.
The positive effect that remote work has on productivity is a moot point among many business leaders.
Which era produced the best hip-hop music is a moot point among avid listeners, with some championing the 80s and others the 90s
But recently, using moot point to refer to an irrelevant or impractical argument has become prevalent, especially in North America.
Since Lori and Jackson decided to cancel the event, whether we could have attended is a moot point.
The possibility of rebranding is a moot point, considering the company has recently declared bankruptcy.
All the arguments that his friends brought up about moving to Los Angeles were moot points because he had already decided to move to New York City.
“Moot Point” vs. “Mute Point”
Because so many people aren’t aware of the etymology of moot point, they mistakenly use the phrase mute point, but this is incorrect. Remember, mute can function as an adjective, noun, or verb, and all have to do with the absence of sound. Knowing that, you can see how the phrase mute point is nonsensical when it comes to arguments.
I told them that arguing about who should have won was a mute point since the competition was over.
I told them that arguing about who should have won was a moot point since the competition was over.
Whether it rains is a mute point because I’m going to the beach either way.
Whether it rains is a moot point because I’m going to the beach either way.
The interpretation of the author’s message remains a mute point in my literary class.
The interpretation of the author’s message remains a moot point in my literary class.
How To Remember That It’s “Moot Point,” Not “Mute Point”
There are two ways to ensure the correct use of moot point.
The first one is especially effective if you’re a fan of the American television sitcom “Friends.” Read the dialogue between two of the show’s characters, Joey and Rachel.
Joey: If he doesn’t like you, then this is all just a moo point.
Rachel: Huh? A moo point?
Joey: Yeah, it’s like a cow’s opinion, you know, it just doesn’t matter. It’s moo.
Rachel: Have I been living with him for too long, or did that all just make sense?
Sure, Joey is incorrect in his use of moo instead of moot. But his explanation is not completely off-target; a moot point just doesn’t matter, like a cow’s opinion.
But there’s an even easier, albeit less humorous, way to make sure you always use moot point instead of mute point, and that’s by trusting LanguageTool. As your personal writing assistant, LanguageTool helps you avoid this common mistake and various others while also suggesting stylistic improvements.
Avoid miscommunications and enhance your writing with LanguageTool. Try it now and notice the difference in clarity and precision.