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

Definition of indifferent

1a : marked by a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern for something : apathetic indifferent to suffering and poverty
b : marked by no special liking for or dislike of something indifferent about which task he was given
2a : being neither good nor bad : mediocre does indifferent work
b : being neither right nor wrong
3 : being neither excessive nor inadequate : moderate hills of indifferent size
4 : marked by impartiality : unbiased
5a : that does not matter one way or the other
b : of no importance or value one way or the other
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 The meta picture emerging reveals that the focus continues on the ease of doing business, indifferent to the environmental and social costs. S Gopikrishna Warrier, Quartz India, "India’s Covid-19 relief package has environmental consequences," 27 May 2020 This view of things is radically individualistic, indifferent to any narrative of identity or purpose. Marilynne Robinson, The New York Review of Books, "What Kind of Country Do We Want?," 27 May 2020 Cretan said attempts to paint the mayor as callously indifferent to homelessness are inconsistent with her track record so far. Dominic Fracassa,, "SF Mayor Breed’s texts with police chief rile up some homelessness advocates," 26 May 2020 Either that, or the Toyota Avalon is just mercilessly good at delivering anesthetic front-drive near-luxury to prosperous real-estate agents and indifferent suburban golf enthusiasts. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, "Acura Is Killing the RLX," 15 May 2020 That’s a long way from her arrival 12 years ago, which generated a fan response that was indifferent at times, as some thought the young Jedi was too childish or downright annoying. David Betancourt, Washington Post, "How ‘The Clone Wars’ turned Ahsoka Tano into a legendary Star Wars character," 4 May 2020 All credit goes to its recent, glorious string of editors — Johnson and Cummings and today’s chief, Fraser Nelson, who not only publishes delightful writing each week but, equally important, is utterly indifferent to mob outrage. Kyle Smith, National Review, "The (Other) Greatest Magazine in the English-Speaking World," 23 Apr. 2020 Others, too, latched onto the idea of millennials (and not, say, federal and state governments) as somehow uniquely indifferent to the pandemic. J.c. Pan, The New Republic, "Generational Warfare in a Pandemic," 22 Apr. 2020 In February, the board had successfully persuaded the council that the sales tax for the city’s early childhood program would be buried on a long November ballot amid a higher turnout of voters indifferent to the issue. Krista Torralva,, "In reversal, coronavirus concerns cause Pre-K 4 SA board to seek San Antonio election in November," 26 Mar. 2020

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 4

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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Time Traveler for indifferent

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for indifferent

Last Updated

5 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Indifferent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for indifferent


How to pronounce indifferent (audio)

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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