Dumb vs Mute: Difference and Comparison

These two words are interchangeable: dumb and mute. However, while the definitions of these words may be the same, their usage, particularly when referring to persons, can be extremely different.

It’s worth noting that the word ‘dumb,’ as well as the word ‘mute,’ is frequently improper.

Key Takeaways

  1. Dumb refers to a person who cannot speak, while mute refers to someone who chooses not to speak.
  2. Physical or developmental issues cause dumbness, while muteness can be a personal choice or caused by trauma.
  3. “dumb” is considered outdated and offensive, while “mute” is more commonly used in modern language.

Dumb vs Mute

People who lack confidence or intelligence are considered dumb if they cannot communicate or share their opinions. Dumb can be used as slang. Mute is a word used for muffling the sound of any audio instrument. Mute can be prescribed for a person who is unable to speak due to any disorder or disease.

Dumb vs Mute

The phrase ‘dumb’ refers to someone unable to communicate.

This phrase can be used as slang as well. Close-mouthed, mute, uncommunicative, taciturn, speechless, inarticulate, wordless, foolish, and unintelligent are some of the synonyms for the phrase Dumb that are used around the world.

Dumb, on the other hand, can be lacking intelligence. Alexa made a dumb mistake! This is an example of a sentence made with dumb.

‘Mute’ is a term used to turn off the sound of any sound-producing device. It is similar to the term ‘dumb.’

Tight-lipped, soften, taciturn, unable to talk, uncommunicative, aphasic, muffle, damper, and dampened down are some of the synonyms for the term Mute.

Amplified, chatty, and voluble are all synonyms for the word silent. Mute the television until I’m chanting, as an example of a sentence constructed with a mute.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonDumbMute
MeaningRefers to someone who does not possess the potential to speak and can also be used as slang.Refers to turning the sound of any sound-producing device.
EtymologyIt originated from an old English word, which is basically of Germanic origin.Originated from an old middle English french word, muet, which is a diminutive of “mu” and was further originated from the Latin “mutus”.
SynonymsSpeechless, inarticulate, wordless, close-mouthed, speechless, uncommunicative, taciturn, foolish, unintelligent.Tight-lipped, aphasic, muffle, dampen, soften, taciturn, unable to speak, uncommunicative, damp down.
AntonymCleverAmplify, talkative, voluble
Sentence formationThat woman made a dumb mistake, and we have to suffer now.Alex! Mute yourself until I finish my commentary.

What is Dumb?

The word “dumb” is a noun. Its original meaning was “to be speechless.” The adjective “dumb” can be applied to animals and inanimate objects that are unable to communicate.

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This is exemplified by the term “dumb waiter,” which refers to a mechanical device used to transport items such as dishes and food between building or house floors.

It’s termed “dumb” because it delivers food or other products similar to a human waiter, but it can’t speak due to its reason of being inanimate.

When it comes to humans, the term “dumb” has a different meaning. It refers to someone unable to communicate because they are mute and unable to talk, most commonly due to their inability to hear or simply congenital deafness.

Most people, however, do not use it in this manner in modern discourse, and it can be deemed disrespectful. The only way it is commonly used in English now is to describe someone who is briefly mute, such as when they are shocked or scared.

The other and more recent meaning of the word “dumb” is to be unintelligent or foolish, which is why it is frowned upon in English. As a result, English speakers use the slang term “dumb” the most.

For instance: What a blunder it was! You made a dumb mistake. This term is used to describe something inadvertent or impromptu and did not necessitate any competence.

dumb

What is Mute?

Similar to the meaning of the word “dumb,” Mute also possesses the meaning of lacking the potential to speak. Previously, to identify an individual who was deaf and could not even speak, the phrase ‘deaf-mute’ was used.

However, this word continues to refer to those people who cannot completely speak. This word can also be perceived as offensive content by some. This word should be used with high caution while referring to certain individuals.

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Even if the term “deaf” does not influence an individual’s capability to talk, the majority of deaf people prefer to be labeled as “deaf” simply. However, the term ‘mute’ is still frequently used to describe inanimate objects.

It’s perhaps most used as a verb to turn something off which produces sound. For example, mute your call while the other person is talking to someone in the background.

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Main Differences Between Dumb and Mute

  1. The term ‘Dumb’ refers to an individual who does not possess the potential to speak. However, this term can also be used as slang. On the other hand, the term ‘Mute’ means similar to dumb and commonly to turn the sound of any sound-producing device.
  2. The term, Dumb originated from an old English word, which was basically of Germanic origin. On the other hand, the term, Mute originated from an old middle English french word, muet, which is a diminutive of “mu.” However, it further originated from the Latin word “mutus”.
  3. Some of the synonyms of the term Dumb which are used worldwide, are close-mouthed, speechless, uncommunicative, taciturn, speechless, inarticulate, wordless, foolish, and unintelligent. On the other hand, some of the synonyms of the term, Mute are tight-lipped, soften, taciturn, unable to speak, uncommunicative, aphasic, muffle, dampen, and damp down.
  4. The antonym of the term, Dumb can be clever. On the other hand, the antonym of the word mute can be amplified, talkative, and voluble.
  5. An example of a sentence made with dumb is, Alexa made a dumb mistake! On the other hand, an example of a sentence made with a mute is, Mute the television till I am chanting.
Difference Between Dumb and Mute
References
  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23038037

Last Updated : 17 August, 2023

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