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adjective dis·in·ter·est·ed \-təd\

: not influenced by personal feelings, opinions, or concerns

: having no desire to know about a particular thing : not interested

Full Definition of DISINTERESTED

a :  not having the mind or feelings engaged :  not interested <telling them in a disinterested voice — Tom Wicker> <disinterested in women — J. A. Brussel>
b :  no longer interested <husband and wife become disinterested in each other — T. I. Rubin>
:  free from selfish motive or interest :  unbiased <a disinterested decision> <disinterested intellectual curiosity is the lifeblood of real civilization — G. M. Trevelyan>
dis·in·ter·est·ed·ly adverb

Usage Discussion of DISINTERESTED

Disinterested and uninterested have a tangled history. Uninterested originally meant impartial, but this sense fell into disuse during the 18th century. About the same time the original sense of disinterested also disappeared, with uninterested developing a new sense—the present meaning—to take its place. The original sense of uninterested is still out of use, but the original sense of disinterested revived in the early 20th century. The revival has since been under frequent attack as an illiteracy and a blurring or loss of a useful distinction. Actual usage shows otherwise. Sense 2 of disinterested is still its most frequent sense, especially in edited prose; it shows no sign of vanishing. A careful writer may choose sense 1a of disinterested in preference to uninterested for emphasis <teaching the letters of the alphabet to her wiggling and supremely disinterested little daughter — C. L. Sulzberger>. Further, disinterested has developed a sense (1b), perhaps influenced by sense 1 of the prefix dis-, that contrasts with uninterested <when I grow tired or disinterested in anything, I experience a disgust — Jack London (letter, 1914)>. Still, use of senses 1a and 1b will incur the disapproval of some who may not fully appreciate the history of this word or the subtleties of its present use.


  1. the disinterested pursuit of truth
  2. <the city's philistines, naturally disinterested in art, voted to cut the museum's budget>

First Known Use of DISINTERESTED

circa 1612

Synonym Discussion of DISINTERESTED

indifferent, unconcerned, incurious, aloof, detached, disinterested mean not showing or feeling interest. indifferent implies neutrality of attitude from lack of inclination, preference, or prejudice <indifferent to the dictates of fashion>. unconcerned suggests a lack of sensitivity or regard for others' needs or troubles <unconcerned about the homeless>. incurious implies an inability to take a normal interest due to dullness of mind or to self-centeredness <incurious about the world>. aloof suggests a cool reserve arising from a sense of superiority or disdain for inferiors or from shyness <aloof from his coworkers>. detached implies an objective attitude achieved through absence of prejudice or selfishness <observed family gatherings with detached amusement>. disinterested implies a circumstantial freedom from concern for personal or especially financial advantage that enables one to judge or advise without bias <judged by a panel of disinterested observers>.
DISINTERESTED Defined for Kids


adjective dis·in·ter·est·ed \dis-ˈin-trə-stəd, -ˈin-tə-rə-\

Definition of DISINTERESTED for Kids

:  not interested <disinterested in sports>
:  not influenced by personal feelings or concerns <a disinterested judge>


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