late 14c., mewet "silent," from Old French muet "dumb, mute" (12c.), diminutive of mut, mo, from Latin mutus "silent, speechless, dumb," probably from imitative base *meue- (source also of Sanskrit mukah "dumb," Greek myein "to be shut," of the mouth). Form assimilated in 16c. to Latin mutus.
1570s, "stage actor in a dumb show;" 1610s as "person who does not speak," from mute (adj.). Musical sense first recorded 1811 of stringed instruments, 1841, of horns.
"deaden the sound of," 1861, from mute (n.). Related: Muted; muting.
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