Definition and examples of the word “moot”

2010-09-08 in English, Grammar, Vocabulary

Word: moot

Part of Speech: adj noun

Pronunciations: IPA: /mut/ Glossary-style: [moot]

Definition: adj: having no practical importance; being only a mental exercise (Ex: a moot discussion). open to debate; arguable.  noun: (Law) a mock trial used for students to get practice participating in trials.
Example: Because Stella and Stanley had missed the bus, they would be late getting home. Their arguing about whose fault it was was really a moot point since they could not travel back in time and get to the bus stop earlier.
Discussion: You may have heard people talk about a “moot point” before; it’s a pretty common expression, at least in the United States. If we say that something is a “moot point,” we usually mean that it’s kind of pointless to talk about it. For example, if something bad has happened (let’s say you left your keys at work and can’t get into your house), then in some ways, it’s pointless to discuss or argue about it since the discussion or argument won’t change the fact, for example, that you’ve forgotten your keys.
This usage of the word comes from the practice of “moot court,” which is a kind of mock trial often held in law schools for law students to get experience trying court cases. In the mock trial, a case is presented, and the prosecution and the defense practice presenting their cases even though any “decision” rendered will have no legal or even practical effect; it’s all just for practice.

5 responses to Definition and examples of the word “moot”

  1. ‘Moot’ point doesn’t really mean pointless – it means it’s a point that is debatable. ‘Moot’ is an Old english word for meeting, generally the equivalent of a town meeting where people would discuss local issues. When we’re using it from the concept of a ‘moot court’ (i.e. a mock trial), ‘moot’ means ‘academic’ (but still not necessarily pointless).
  2. Hi, Lane. At least here in the United States, it’s pretty common to talk about a “moot point” as something that is “academic” (as opposed to practical). I suspect that this usage derives from the practice of “moot court,” in which law students practice putting on trials.

    I should have pointed out in the entry above that “moot” is or has become in the U.S. an “auto-antonym,” i.e., a word that has senses that are contradictory, like “sanction” or “temper.”

  3. applause!
  4. The moot is new to me… but I think it may “pragmatically” mean different things.
  5. The moot is new to me… “New” is not always good, but at least it adds something to our word power. Who knows, it will be tested in GMAT.

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