Legal Dictionary


Legal Definition of moot


  1. Also called a "moot point": a side issue, problem or question which does not have to be decided to resolve the main issues in a dispute.

Derived terms

Related terms

Definition of moot

Etymology 1

    From Old English *mōt, gemōt (“meeting”)


  • enPR: mo͞ot, IPA: /muːt/, SAMPA: /mu:t/
  • Audio (US) [?]
  • Rhymes: -uːt


moot (comparative more moot, superlative most moot)

  1. (UK, or US dated) Subject to discussion (originally at a moot); arguable, debatable, unsolved or impossible to solve.
  2. (North America) Having no practical impact or relevance.
  3. (North America, chiefly law) Being an exercise of thought; academic.


  • (without relevance): irrelevant, obsolete (if it was previously relevant)


moot (plural moots)

  1. A moot court.
  2. A system of arbitration in many areas of Africa in which the primary goal is to settle a dispute and reintegrate adversaries into society rather than assess penalties.


moot (third-person singular simple present moots, present participle mooting, simple past and past participle mooted)

  1. To bring up as a subject for debate, to propose.
  2. To discuss or debate.
  3. (US) To make or declare irrelevant.

Further reading

In American law, a matter is moot if further legal proceedings with regard to it can have no effect, or events have placed it beyond the reach of the law. Thereby the matter has been deprived of practical significance or rendered purely academic.

This is different from the ordinary British meaning of "moot", which means "debatable." The shift in usage was first observed in the United States. The U.S. development of this word stems from the practice of moot courts, in which hypothetical or fictional cases were argued as a part of legal education. These purely academic issues led the U.S. courts to describe cases where developing circumstances made any judgment ineffective as "moot". The doctrine can be compared to the ripeness doctrine, another judge-made rule, that holds that judges should not rule on cases based entirely on anticipated disputes or hypothetical facts. Similar doctrines prevent the federal courts of the United States from issuing advisory opinions.


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


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