moot point

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moot point (plural moot points)

  1. An issue that is subject to, or open for, discussion or debate, to which no satisfactory answer is found; originally, one to be definitively determined by an assembly of the people.
    • 2009, Barney Hoskyns, Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits, Faber & Faber 2009, p. 155:
      Exactly which of the songs on Small Change originated in London is a moot point.
  2. An issue regarded as potentially debatable, but no longer practically applicable. Although the idea may still be worth debating and exploring academically, and such discussion may be useful for addressing similar issues in the future, the idea has been rendered irrelevant for the present issue.
    Until we rebuild downtown, whether we build more parking spaces is a moot point.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The first usage given above is the original meaning of the phrase.
  • The second usage given is modern and is the meaning more commonly understood in American English, possibly because of the association with moot court.