If I said

I silenced him during our online conversation


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.

  • @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
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    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
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    @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

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 .

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    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

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


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.

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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.

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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".

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    The dictionary police are watching you, not is. This is your last warning, citizen. – Tim Lymington Jul 7 '11 at 12:56
  • Watching you watching them – Michael Durrant May 14 '15 at 19:34

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

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    Better if you include some references to definition and also some usage examples. – Kris Nov 11 '12 at 8:26

"Undo" is not common in the world of professional sound control, except perhaps in the relatively recent domain of computerized music. For decades it was often heard in professional audio circles to "UNMUTE" a channel, following the muting of mixing console channel. I wholeheartedly believe it to be the perfect word to reverse "mute".

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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.


I made him vocalized after 5 minutes.


I sounded him 5 minutes later.

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