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

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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?
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Recent Examples on the Web

Shanahan has been indifferent when asked if either Breida or Coleman should emerge as a workhorse. Cam Inman, The Mercury News, "Breida says Coleman ‘will help take some off me’ in 49ers’ split backfield," 4 Sep. 2019 However, his form has been indifferent throughout his short tenure, with home fans at Camp Nou even booing him on occasion., "Philippe Coutinho: Barcelona 'Concerned' by Lack of Offers for Former Liverpool Star," 31 July 2019 Caputo, a former Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Chicago Tribune, excels at descriptions of nature, which his characters experience variously as sublime, indifferent or hostile. Julia M. Klein,, "Philip Caputo hits his target in skillful new novel, 'Hunter’s Moon’," 12 Aug. 2019 In the east, Chittagong (Bangladesh’s main seaport and its second-largest city) remained an indifferent port served only by a metre-gauge railway. Raghvendra Singh, Quartz India, "What Britain gained by partitioning the subcontinent into India and Pakistan," 9 Aug. 2019 Elma faces indifferent or hostile superiors, colleagues, and press. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "The Lady Astronaut novels are an enthralling alternate history of the space race," 22 Aug. 2018 Yet if America is indifferent to his true nature, why the anger at the critique? David French, Time, "Mueller's Testimony Didn't Move Us Toward Impeachment. But It Should Make Us Determined to Vote Trump Out," 25 July 2019 Certainly millions of Americans are indifferent to the decline of organized religion, or even welcome it. Ericka Andersen, WSJ, "Is God the Answer to the Suicide Epidemic?," 11 July 2019 Through it all, couples like Ciara and Russell Williams, Jada and Will Smith and Erica and Warryn Campbell have never hid the good, bad or indifferent about their relationships. Jasmine Grant, Essence, "8 Celebrity Couples Who Aren't Afraid To Be Open About Their Relationships," 13 June 2019

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.

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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

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Last Updated

12 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for indifferent

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

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More Definitions for indifferent



English Language Learners Definition of indifferent

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


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


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

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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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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