Moot Point or Mute Point?

Trying to be a writer isn’t easy. While editing my manuscript for The Spanish Coin this afternoon, Word highlighted “mute point” in my text. I am going to show my ignorance now. I thought “mute point” was correct.

When I looked into the matter, I discovered an interesting blog about this very thing on https//languagerules.wordpress.com from September 25, 2006. The following is what that blogger had to say on the subject:

“I haven’t heard this myself, but my friend Celeste has and it’s so hilarious it deserves a blog entry.

“Apparently Celeste has heard people say, “It’s a mute point.”

“That’s ‘mute’ pronounced ‘mee-yoot’ as in remaining silent.

“The correct term is ‘moot point’ and the correct first word, its spelling, and pronunciation is ‘moot.’ Like adding T to the end of what a cow would say.

“And what is meant by ‘moot point’? A moot point is one that need not be decided, due to a change of circumstances. Very interesting, because the word ‘moot’ by itself means ‘debatable, or subject to discussion,’ the opposite of its use in the legal context. The shift in usage is slowly happening, starting here in the United States.

“But what’s this about a ‘mute point’? As Celeste reports to me, some people say this thinking it means, ‘Let’s put the mute button on and cease any discussion on this.’

“Wouldn’t it be funny if the term evolves this way to become correct? After all, with the ubiquity of remote controls and mute buttons, a ‘mute point’ may make more sense than a ‘moot point’ to someone who’s not a lawyer.

“For today, however, it’s wrong. Say ‘moot point’ and try not to stick a ‘y’ sound in there.”

That’s interesting, to say the least. “Moot point” is correct, although by definition it is not correct! It brings to mind one of my pet peeves. I cringe when I hear someone say, “could care less” instead of “couldn’t care less.” Think about it. If your point is that someone couldn’t possibly care less, then why say that they “could care less?” This is like fingernails on a blackboard to me, which I realize identifies me as a senior citizen.

Stay tuned to our ever-changing English language usage. Perhaps the day will come that “mute point” is correct and I’ll have to unlearn what I learned today.

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