Definition of disinterested
- telling them in a disinterested voice
- —Tom Wicker
- disinterested in women
- —J. A. Brussel
- husband and wife become disinterested in each other
- —T. I. Rubin
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the disinterested pursuit of truth
the city's philistines, naturally disinterested in art, voted to cut the museum's budget
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.
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.
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