indifferent

adjective
in·​dif·​fer·​ent | \ in-ˈdi-fərnt How to pronounce indifferent (audio) , -f(ə-)rənt\

Definition of indifferent

1 : marked by impartiality : unbiased
2a : that does not matter one way or the other
b : of no importance or value one way or the other
3a : marked by no special liking for or dislike of something indifferent about which task he was given
b : marked by a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern for something : apathetic indifferent to suffering and poverty
4 : being neither excessive nor inadequate : moderate hills of indifferent size
5a : being neither good nor bad : mediocre does indifferent work
b : being neither right nor wrong
6 : characterized by lack of active quality : neutral an indifferent chemical
7a : not differentiated indifferent tissues of the human body
b : capable of development in more than one direction especially : not yet embryologically determined

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from indifferent

indifferently adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for indifferent

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

The Many Shades of Indifferent

Many of the words in our language have more than a single meaning. In most cases we have little trouble distinguishing them; we understand, based on the context in which each is used, that the English of "the English language" is different from the English used in billiards or pool ("spin around the vertical axis deliberately imparted to a ball that is driven or rolled"). In other cases, such as with the word indifferent, it can be a bit confusing. Indifferent may mean "unbiased," "apathetic," "mediocre," "unimportant," and several other things. Some of these senses are distinguished by the words commonly used with them; the "apathetic" sense, for instance, is typically followed by the preposition to. When using indifferent in your own writing take care that the surrounding words offer your reader sufficient context to prevent confusion.

Examples of indifferent in a Sentence

It can hardly be argued, by himself or by his defenders, that he was indifferent to, or unaware of, the true situation. — Christopher Hitchens, Harper's, March 2001 … aspects of language that the earlier grammarians were indifferent to. — Geoffrey Nunberg, Atlantic, December 1983 For it is commonly said and commonly believed that science is completely neutral and indifferent as to the ends and values which move men to act … — John Dewey, Freedom and Culture, 1939 The movie was poorly received by an indifferent public. Was the food good, bad, or indifferent?
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

West of the Blue Ridge Mountains, whites were much more indifferent toward or even opposed to slavery — leading to the eventual separation of West Virginia during the Civil War. Gregory S. Schneider, Washington Post, "Virginia debated ending slavery after Nat Turner’s revolt," 14 June 2019 South Korea, meanwhile, find themselves in similarly indifferent form. SI.com, "Women's World Cup - Matchday 6 Preview: How to Watch, Live Stream, Team News & More," 10 June 2019 This coalition of mothers believes the epidemic is unfolding much like AIDS did, with a society indifferent toward people believed to have brought their deaths upon themselves. Claire Galofaro, The Seattle Times, "Moms of the dead from drugs: “Where is the outrage for us?”," 29 Jan. 2019 Our male primate ancestors must have evolved from the typical indifferent and promiscuous mammalian father into a committed human dad. Alison Gopnik, WSJ, "For Gorillas, Being a Good Dad Is Sexy," 30 Nov. 2018 Unlike Sansa, Arya is pretty indifferent to the khaleesi and her entitled claim to the throne at the moment; Arya thinks Dany's dragons are cool, but that's about it. Ineye Komonibo, Marie Claire, "Daenerys' Maybe-Green Eyes on Game of Thrones Could Be Key to Her Fate," 2 May 2019 These power grabs highlight one of the most disturbing facts about American politics today: The Republican Party has become institutionally indifferent to the health of democracy. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "The Wisconsin power grab is part of a bigger Republican attack on democracy," 6 Dec. 2018 In a world where this is the reality, and where the public is largely indifferent to public policy, mass politics and attempts to affect public opinion become a lot less important. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "The “do what you want” theory of politics," 18 July 2018 Dedicated to her family and largely indifferent to glamour, Mrs. Bush played down her role in her husband’s political success. Enid Nemy, New York Times, "Barbara Bush, Wife of 41st President and Mother of 43rd, Dies at 92," 17 Apr. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of indifferent

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for indifferent

Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French, from Latin indifferent-, indifferens, from in- + different-, differens, present participle of differre to be different — more at differ

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about indifferent

Statistics for indifferent

Last Updated

20 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for indifferent

The first known use of indifferent was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for indifferent

indifferent

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of indifferent

: not interested in or concerned about something
: neither good nor bad : not very good

indifferent

adjective
in·​dif·​fer·​ent | \ in-ˈdi-fə-rənt How to pronounce indifferent (audio) , -ˈdi-frənt\

Kids Definition of indifferent

1 : not interested or concerned about something She's indifferent about your problems.
2 : neither good nor bad an indifferent performance

Other Words from indifferent

indifferently adverb

indifferent

adjective
in·​dif·​fer·​ent | \ in-ˈdif-ərnt, -ˈdif-(ə-)rent How to pronounce indifferent (audio) \

Medical Definition of indifferent

1 : having or exhibiting a lack of affect, concern, or care
2a : not differentiated indifferent tissues of the human body
b : capable of development in more than one direction especially : not yet embryologically determined

Other Words from indifferent

indifferently adverb

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on indifferent

What made you want to look up indifferent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

showing courage and determination

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!