in·dif·fer·ent | \ in-ˈdi-fərnt , -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

And as former chief of staff Brian McGuire wrote in Real Clear Politics, Mr. McConnell never pretends to be above politics or indifferent to re-election. Fred Barnes, WSJ, "Mitch McConnell Is the Master of Confirming Judges," 9 July 2018 In diminishing twilight on this Saturday of Labor Day weekend, Giorgi was greeted by indifferent if polite applause from the 20,000 or so fans in the stands. Jon Wertheim,, "Camila Giorgi Has Talent to Stay on Tour, But Finding Finances a Struggle," 10 Jan. 2014 Always indifferent to clothes and fond of economizing, the Duke of Edinburgh brushed off his naval uniform and reportedly wore darned socks to Westminster Abbey. Chanel Vargas, Town & Country, "The Story of Queen Elizabeth's Wedding Day," 4 Dec. 2017 Definition: Lacking interest, care, or enthusiasm; indifferent or apathetic. Stacey Leasca, Southern Living, "9 Words That Will Make You Sound Smarter," 3 July 2018 The lamp won’t be indifferent to his feelings, or respond awkwardly, or tell him it’s too much. Jaya Saxena, GQ, "This Fucked Me Up: David Byrne Dancing with a Lamp," 3 July 2018 All this is in the middle of a cold, hard city that seems indifferent to urban squalor. Carl Nolte, San Francisco Chronicle, "San Francisco’s split personality of urban decay, renewal," 16 Mar. 2018 The indifferent run continued into this season, and Muller was left out for both the second league game of the season and the Champions League clash with Anderlecht. Jonathan Wilson,, "Germany's World Cup Repeat Hopes Hinge on Muller's Effectiveness, Neuer's Health," 6 June 2018 In the Peak TV era, anything less than 10 nominations as a standard is proof that the TV Academy is asleep or indifferent to the changes in its own industry. Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter, "THR's TV Critics Debate the Highs and Lows of the 2018 Emmy Nominations," 12 July 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.

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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 2018

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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 , -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 \

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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