Moot Point

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A phrase that can signify either of the following definitions, but is frequently used in a way that combines the meanings of both:

  1. An issue or dispute that remains unsettled or open to debate
  2. An issue which pursuing to its resolution would be impractical, not critical, hypothetical, or academic

Similarly, an issue that is characterized as moot by federal courts presents no actual dispute because it has already been resolved. By contrast, an issue that is not ripe presents no actual dispute because it concerns facts, harms, or rights that do not exist or have not occurred in the present but are instead hypothetical in nature. However, in the phrase moot court, moot is used a verb meaning to propose an issue for discussion; this meaning is an American vestige of moot’s predominant British usage.

 [Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]