What do you call a person who cannot speak?

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    Not deaf, certainly. Deafness has no relation whatsoever to the decision a Deaf person makes to either use their voice right not. And never, EVER “dumb.”

    Some mutism is “selective,” meaning that sometimes the person will speak, sometimes not, and the choice may or may not be under their control. Mutism can be caused also by brain damage, for example, from a stroke.

    But not deafness. The two are not connected.

    What do we call those who don’t speak?

    “Mute,” “silent,” “speechless.”

    Mutism, or mutists, is a broad term that refers to those who don’t speak whether it’s due to physical trauma, psychological disorders, any other form of disability, or by choice.

    Those who suffer from anxiety as a result of speaking around others are known as selective mutists.

    Those who choose not to speak are known as elective mutists.

    Anyone who doesn’t speak because they greatly dislike/hate/fear the sound of their voice could be said to have phonophobia (they’d be a phonophobist).


    Or a person can be born dumb, (The inability to talk) which means she will never speak with or to anyone.

    I believe non-verbal is the PC term for mute.

    Anything you like, they won’t answer back.

    But I think there are a number of words you are looking for here. Those who won’t speak because they don’t feel like it are taciturn, or alternatively laconic.

    Those who won’t speak because they are under a vow of silence may be following praxis.

    Those who will not speak for fear of causing offence may be diplomatically silent, which can also be termed discreet.

    Those who will not speak on a particular subject are keeping confidentiality.

    Those who physically cannot speak are mute, or dumb (this word does not only mean stupid).

    And those who won’t speak to


    The answer to this question, as Ms. Robinson notes, is certainly not deaf! Deafness refers to hearing, not speech! Many deaf individuals speak. There is an entire university of deaf individuals, Gallaudet, and many of the students speak, according to faculty I have spoken to who have taught there. I had a university student five years ago, born totally deaf, who spoke flawlessly. He had made it a personal goal. I would sometimes forget he could not hear me, turning my back to him as I spoke. He would flag me during lectures, or tap me if he was near, to remind me that I had to face him so that


    I refer you to the excellent answer of Barbara Batholomew.

    Aphasia is the term which applies to a partial or total loss of the power of speech which is not due to defects in the peripheral organs but to disorder in some of the cerebral centres. It is also called alalia.

    From Greek: “a” (not) + “phanai” (speak), “a” (without) +”lalia” (talking)

    Aphasia is not an illness but a symptom of disease or injury to the brain. In the elderly it can accompany stroke and can affect a person’s ability not only to speak but also to read, write or understand what is being said to him.

    Speech therapy can help som


    Mute ….

    I think this sound better.

    The term mute is widely considered pejorative. People would say someone is deaf and can’t talk or the person isn’t deaf but can’t talk. If it’s someone who can’t or won’t talk because of trauma ( selective mutism for example) or because of a disability like global delay development or autistic spectrum, then they are called non- verbal.

    It is a difficult one, these are the possibilities I’ve come up with, but you don’t want to make it sound like the person is deliberately so. So I do understand the dilemma.

    I would use ‘unable to communicate’ ( although people who cannot talk can still find ways to communicate).

    ‘Non verbal’ or ‘unable to speak:, it’s the kindest, most polite and respectful way to put it.

    My friend Tash is unable to speak, but she does have a symbol system that the carers use to ask her questions or try to find out what she wants. If you come across someone who is unable to talk to you, you may find that they ha


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