What is a Moot Point?

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Anne elk

Anne Elk (Miss) talking about her discovery of the preserved Moot

We've all heard the expression "it's a moot point", meaning obviously that the item under discussion is irrelevant and not valid or worth talking about- but where did this rather strange expression come from?

The use of the moot point has been recorded back as far as recorded history spans, with mentions of Marc Antony telling Cleopatra that it was a moot point whether wicker baskets should be allowed in bedrooms mere moments after that fateful incident with the asp. Some have claimed that there should have been research into moot points years ago and they were just waiting to get a round tuit.

There are those who would have you believe that the origin of the moot point lies in language itself and that it's just a strange etymology of words through time that have led to the expression as it is used today, but this is not in fact the case.

edit History

To see the origins of the term "moot point" as having a meaning of invalidity or worthlessness we need to look to the fossil records where fossils of a creature named a Moot (Alces nullus) have been found under the permafrost of Alaska. The Moot is believed to be a close relative of the Moose (Alces alces) which is a member of the deer family.

The best preserved example of a Moot was found in 1973 by noted explorer Anne Elk (Miss) buried in the peat bogs of Western Ireland and almost perfectly preserved. It is from this specimen that we know the creature to have been long haired as fossilized remains only let us know the bone structure. Sharing most of the same basic familial traits with the Moose the Moot was a long haired quadruped but unlike the Moose the Moot only had a rudimentary horn stub, just a soft nubbin, with no sharp or pointed aspect at all.

This gave rise to the common usage we see today that a 'Moot point' was really no point at all.

Moots appear to have become extinct around 1786 when they were used primarily as a food source on the convict transport ships to the penal colony of Australia. They were particularly prized for their tender meat and while they could give a nasty nip to the unwary ships cook there was no danger of goring from their non-existent antlers.

edit The Future

Of course over time language changes It may be that in time we will have another pointless thing take over as the source of the irrelevant point in an argument, perhaps it will become the war against terror point, who can tell but I'd like to think the moot point will remain for its succinctness.

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