Confusing words

Confusing words: M

– “Sorry, I was on mute.”
– “You need to unmute yourself.”
– “I can’t find the mute button.”

(Phrases of the age.)

You may have had something interesting to say, but if you were on mute at the time, then sadly what you said was a moot point. Or possibly a mute point?

Sometimes people talk of a “mute point” or they talk of an idea being “muted”. They mean moot, and mooted.

Mute means silent, or refraining from speech, or not expressed in speech; and in this day and age the word is commonly used in the sense of muting your microphone in a video call. There is also a kind of swan called a mute swan (so called because it’s less vocal than other species of swan).

Moot is an adjective meaning debatable or questionable. It’s also a verb meaning to raise a topic for discussion or suggest an idea. (“A business rate rise for higher-value properties is being mooted”.)

You can read about the difference between moot and mute and a whole lot more, in the Clifford & Co editorial style guide.