Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
--C.S. Lewis--

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's A Moot Point

I keep hearing people say "mute" point, pronounced like the word meaning inaudible, when they mean to say "moot", a word meaning irrelevant. Today I saw it in written form. The person (a lawyer) in question clearly meant "moot", given the context of the sentence, but typed "mute". Why is this? These words don't sound alike when pronounced properly, and their meanings aren't similar, yet it's a fairly commonplace mistake. Further confusing the issue, no one ever makes the opposite mistake, saying "moot" when they mean "mute". When did they start getting confused, and why?