2

(Not really answered here.) See also here - I think I found a self-antonym. I took up some research after hearing "Jessie's Girl", and I think the following etymology developments hold:

  • "Moot" initially meant "debatable", also "uncertain".
  • Since points can be debated to death and uncertain points practically are, eh, pointless, the meaning also took up the sense "irrelevant".
  • For exact this reason, I expect the shift of meaning to have happened in the Internet age.
  • Nowadays "moot" is almost always used in the second sense.

But I'm a German and thus have not much access to "living" English. Thus, please confirm or deny my educated guesses, preferrably with references.

3
  • 1
    It's true that sometimes moot means "arguable" (not so often nowadays, frankly). But I suggest that whenever it's qualified as probably moot, it's practically 100% certain the intended meaning is "irrelevant". Oct 7 at 11:59
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? What does the "the point is moot " in the context mean? Oct 7 at 12:01
  • I'm voting to leave this question open because the OP links that proposed dupe question first thing in this question, saying it's "not really answered" there.
    – gotube
    Oct 8 at 19:50
2

Interesting Guardian article "The meaning of ‘moot’ is a moot point – whichever variety of English you speak"

moot remains a lovely and versatile word, equally at home as noun, adjective or verb – and with contrasting meanings, depending on which side of the Atlantic you are using it.

a moot point, initially a legal issue, became used more widely to mean one that was open to argument, debatable or uncertain. The author Gerald Durrell used it in this sense when he wrote: “Whether he could have bitten us successfully ... was rather a moot point, but it was not the sort of experiment I cared to make.”

Today, I think most British English speakers would use moot in this sense, or as a verb to mean proposed (“Banking: plan mooted for merger of trade associations” ran a typical headline this week). It’s a different story in the United States, where since the 19th century a moot point has been one that is at best academic and at worst irrelevant.

Mind your language - moot point (The Guardian)

1
  • THX, that was exactly the kind of primary source I hoped to get. (E.g. that it is also an UK/US issue.) Oct 8 at 8:24
0

Have often wondered about use of phrase 'moot point'. There seems to be a split between American English and the UK version. Have only heard it used in its 'no longer relevant/worth discussing' sense in the States, whereas in the UK it means precisely the opposite. I think author JRR Tolkien would side with the UK incarnation since he refers to a meeting of Ents (giant trees) as an Ent Moot.

New contributor
Nick Haines is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .