Something that is moot is disputable, irrelevant, or unsolvable, but going back it time we can see it take on quite a different meaning. First, we get the usual slew of alterations in Middle English due to the lack of more rigorous conventions: forms such as mot and gemot were rampant as well as our current word. Gemot was also the word for moot in Old English (the ge- got dropped later), where it meant "assembly" or "meeting" (Game of Thrones fans might recognize the usage of moot in a context of "congregation", where a Kingsmoot is a method of choosing a ruler of the Iron Islands). The connection is rather curious: law students back in the day would gather in meetings to practice hypothetical trials. These mock trials led to a meaning of "hypothetical", which was later extended to the current definitions. Anyway, gemot comes from Proto-Germanic mota, meaning "an encounter", and that in turn is derived as being from Proto-Indo-European mehd, or "to come".
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd