dis·​in·​ter·​est·​ed (ˌ)dis-ˈin-trə-stəd How to pronounce disinterested (audio)
: not having the mind or feelings engaged (see engaged sense 1) : not interested
telling them in a disinterested voiceTom Wicker
disinterested in womenJ. A. Brussel
: no longer interested
husband and wife become disinterested in each otherT. I. Rubin
: free from selfish motive or interest (see interest entry 1 sense 1a) : unbiased
a disinterested decision
disinterested intellectual curiosity is the lifeblood of real civilizationG. M. Trevelyan
disinterestedly adverb
Disinterested vs. Uninterested: Usage Guide

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. The "free from selfish interest" sense of disinterested is still its most frequent sense, especially in edited prose; it shows no sign of vanishing. Further, disinterested has developed an additional sense—"no longer interested"—perhaps influenced by the "deprive of" sense 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 the "not interested" and "no longer interested" senses of disinterested will incur the disapproval of some who may not fully appreciate the history of this word or the subtleties of its present use.

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of disinterested in a Sentence

the disinterested pursuit of truth the city's philistines, naturally disinterested in art, voted to cut the museum's budget
Recent Examples on the Web Despite some initiatives to aid those living in the Bennett Freeze and support those who have been relocated, the efforts have been hindered by decades of bureaucratic hurdles and disinterested leadership. The Arizona Republic, 15 Apr. 2024 Dominique’s dubious testimony on the events at Riverwalk should have called her credibility into question; instead, the coroner was soliciting her amateur—and hardly disinterested—opinion about Zac’s state of mind. Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker, 5 Feb. 2024 After hours of mixing, your ears and brain become accustomed to your mix choices so the AI can offer helpfully disinterested advice about what tweaks might still be made. Nate Anderson, Ars Technica, 6 Feb. 2024 Milwaukee responded by looking disinterested on the defensive end, constantly dying on screens and watching open shooter after open shooter knock down shots. Brian Sampson, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 Both providers must document the request in the medical record and the person overseeing care must submit a request form signed by the patient and witnessed by a disinterested party. Alex Derosier, Twin Cities, 26 Jan. 2024 Sure, cats can be devoted little pets and gentle companions, but while dogs are simply dying for affection, some cats seem absolutely disinterested in human interaction, let alone affection. Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 1 Dec. 2023 While the film's runtime might be a dealbreaker for casual audience members, especially given its bleak subject matter, even the most disinterested viewer will appreciate the prowess of the film's central performances. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, 21 July 2023 Zhang lets this woeful reality speak for itself, keeping the steady hand of a disinterested observer who only needs one camera to document what her country is doing with hundreds of millions of them. Michael Nordine, Variety, 14 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'disinterested.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of disinterested was circa 1612


Dictionary Entries Near disinterested

Cite this Entry

“Disinterested.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disinterested. Accessed 20 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


dis·​in·​ter·​est·​ed dis-ˈint-ə-res-təd How to pronounce disinterested (audio)
: not interested
: not influenced by personal feelings, opinions, or concerns : unbiased
a disinterested decision
disinterestedly adverb
disinterestedness noun

Legal Definition


: free of any interest especially of a pecuniary nature : impartial
a disinterested person to witness the will

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