dis·​in·​ter·​est·​ed | \ (ˌ)dis-ˈin-trə-stəd How to pronounce disinterested (audio) ; -ˈin-tə-ˌre-, -tə-rə-, -tər-; -ˈin-ˌtre-\

Definition of disinterested

1a : not having the mind or feelings engaged (see engaged sense 1) : 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
2 : free from selfish motive or interest (see interest entry 1 sense 1a) : unbiased a disinterested decision disinterested intellectual curiosity is the lifeblood of real civilization— G. M. Trevelyan

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Other Words from disinterested

disinterestedly adverb

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

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.

What is the Difference Between disinterested and uninterested?

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 sense of disinterested describing someone not having the mind or feelings engaged also disappeared, only to have uninterested take its place. The original sense of uninterested is still out of use, but the original ("not interested") sense of disinterested revived in the early 20th century. The revival has come under frequent attack as an illiteracy and a blurring or loss of a useful distinction. However, actual usage shows that writers and speakers use these words with intention. For instance, a writer may choose disinterested in preference to uninterested for emphasis, as in "a supremely disinterested child." Further, disinterested has developed a sense meaning "no longer interested," which is clearly distinguishable from uninterested.

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

This worked during World War I, when seeing women plow fields, deliver mail, enforce laws, drive buses and assemble munitions countered the stereotypes of women as too fragile or disinterested in non-domestic work. Laurie Derose, The Conversation, "Gender equality at home takes a hit when children arrive," 8 Aug. 2019 Note also that government will not be a disinterested judge of what is its proper share of others’ wealth. George Will, Twin Cities, "George Will: Is the individual obsolete?," 17 July 2019 Ireland players saw it all and told it all to the disinterested ref, but the goal stood and the Boys in Green fell. SI.com, "50 of the Biggest Controversies in Football History," 21 June 2019 But would a 21st-century version of either Adams — or of Washington — be able to redirect the nation away from destructive partisanship toward a disinterested pursuit of a common good? Virginia Dejohn Anderson, New York Times, "Two Early Presidents Who Questioned the Wisdom of ‘the People’," 22 Apr. 2019 At first, viewers seemed disinterested or skeptical about the mini-golf TV series. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Steph Curry Had a Lot of People Hating on His New 'Holey Moley' Golf Show," 27 June 2019 In most contexts their forecasts will outperform those of a financially disinterested committee, even one made up of experts. The Economist, "The market believes the Fed will cut rates by September. Should it?," 13 June 2019 Just as Babitz introduced her slender 1977 masterpiece Slow Days, Fast Company as an effort to seduce not the reader but a disinterested boyfriend, so Anolik announces this book as her own wayward, digressive romance. Lidija Haas, Harper's magazine, "New Books," 10 Jan. 2019 The chapter 11 bankruptcy process requires advisers to be disinterested advocates for their clients and to disclose all relationships that might give rise to a conflict of interest to ensure other participants in the cases are aware of them. Tom Corrigan, WSJ, "Transparency Gets Fresh Look in Bankruptcy Court," 16 Jan. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'disinterested.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of disinterested

circa 1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Last Updated

13 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for disinterested

The first known use of disinterested was circa 1612

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More Definitions for disinterested



English Language Learners Definition of disinterested

: not influenced by personal feelings, opinions, or concerns
: having no desire to know about a particular thing : not interested


dis·​in·​ter·​est·​ed | \ dis-ˈin-trə-stəd How to pronounce disinterested (audio) , -ˈin-tə-rə-\

Kids Definition of disinterested

1 : not interested disinterested in sports
2 : not influenced by personal feelings or concerns a disinterested judge


dis·​in·​ter·​est·​ed | \ dis-ˈin-tə-rəs-təd, -ˈin-trəs-, -ˈin-tə-ˌres- How to pronounce disinterested (audio) \

Legal Definition of disinterested

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on disinterested

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for disinterested

Spanish Central: Translation of disinterested

Nglish: Translation of disinterested for Spanish Speakers

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