Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

If I said

I silenced him during our online conversation

or

I muted the television

what would I use to indicate the reverse event occurred? I've seen unmute used in various contexts, but it's not a real word.

share|improve this question
    
@Rob Hruska: We don't need a special word for every possible thing we can do. You could perhaps just reinstate him. In context that would be obvious, surely? –  FumbleFingers May 24 '11 at 22:22
    
@FumbleFingers - Reinstate would probably work, although I'm still interested in whether or not there's something more specific. Reinstate implies that there's a known context (that a muting previously occurred), and would be non-deterministic if multiple events had happened that could all be reinstated. –  Rob Hruska May 24 '11 at 22:25
    
@Rob Hruska: Well my point is precisely that there won't be a word. Just because you now mute stuff online doesn't mean it's a new concept. We've had mute buttons on tv remotes for decades, and they're used by everyone everywhere. If we needed a word, we'd have found or coined it decades ago. –  FumbleFingers May 24 '11 at 22:30
5  
I have to balk at the notion that a word is "not a real word" if it's not in the dictionary. –  senderle May 24 '11 at 23:02
1  
@Rob Hruska: I didn't mean in every context. Suppose you watch a film on tv with someone else, and they have the remote. They mute it during a commercial break, you chat together for a few minutes, then you notice that the adverts are finishing, and it's time to watch/listen again. What do you say? Me, I'd just say Turn it back, or Put the sound back on, or something. I certainly wouldn't unmute it. But you can say whatever you like, I guess. I don't really see the need for a one-word term - and nor do most tv watchers, apparently. –  FumbleFingers May 24 '11 at 23:23
show 2 more comments

6 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

For televisions and similar appliances unmute is an acceptable word that is in common usage.

For silence meaning subdue I would choose encourage as an antonym .

share|improve this answer
1  
Unmute is precisely the right word in any situation, formal or informal, where it reverses a previous muting; televisions, computers, phones, or any place where mute is the appropriate verb for silencing the source of the sound. –  Matthew Frederick May 24 '11 at 23:12
    
@Matthew Frederick, yes I agree I will edit the answer, thanks. –  z7sg Ѫ May 24 '11 at 23:14
add comment

Despite what your dictionary might say (or not say),

unmute

is a perfectly acceptable word to describe that action. There are many combinations of affixes that are productive on many roots which just aren't mentioned in word lists.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Oh, there won't be a special word. So many people watch tv with others, there's only one remote. We'd all be using it if there was such a word.

reinstate is a single-word that could sometimes be used.

In the context of the tv scenario, I'd just say put it back, or turn the sound back on, or something. I certainly wouldn't unmute it.

share|improve this answer
add comment

First of all: Some dictionary not listing a word does not mean that it is "not a real word". There's no dictionary police waiting to come and get you once you use it. (Or is there?)

Prefixing stuff (yep, verbs, nouns, adjectives, you name it) with un- appears to be very productive in English. Hence, "unmute" is a good candidate. Even "unsilence" should work.

After all, you'd need to (methodically) ask a lot of (different) native speakers to find out whether any of those two is marked. Otherwise, any descent online dictionary should provide you with one or more cross-referenced antonyms for "to mute" or "to silence".

share|improve this answer
1  
The dictionary police are watching you, not is. This is your last warning, citizen. –  TimLymington Jul 7 '11 at 12:56
add comment

The opposite to mute as in sound control is often marked as "undo", which seems much better than unmute.

share|improve this answer
1  
Better if you include some references to definition and also some usage examples. –  Kris Nov 11 '12 at 8:26
add comment

Vocalize

I know using "vocalize" in this context is a little weird, but this might be the most suitable word I can think of.

I silenced him during our online conversation.

I vocalized him after 5 minutes.

Or

I made him vocalized after 5 minutes.

Sound

I sounded him 5 minutes later.

share|improve this answer
1  
You would vocalize a thought but not a person. –  z7sg Ѫ May 24 '11 at 23:08
    
Agree, how about sound? –  Jamie May 24 '11 at 23:16
1  
Um, I'm not feeling that one either oxforddictionaries.com/definition/… –  z7sg Ѫ May 24 '11 at 23:23
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.