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 Two federal judges in New York in late March ordered the release of about two dozen ICE detainees and blasted the agency for being indifferent to the medical needs of those in custody. Malathi Nayak,, "ICE Cites Bunk-Bed Barriers to Defend Distancing of Migrants," 8 May 2020 In his ruling on Friday, U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar said lawyers for the inmates had to demonstrate Gov. Gavin Newsom and correctional officials were indifferent to protecting the inmates and therefore in violation of their federal rights. Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, "Judge rejects more inmate releases from California prisons," 17 Apr. 2020 Still, there’s nothing particularly unusual about young people of any era being indifferent to seeming abstractions like illness, aging, and death. Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, The New Yorker, "A Memory of Recklessness in the Face of Disaster," 13 Apr. 2020 Others were indifferent to his death, for Mubarak had been ailing and sidelined for years. Sudarsan Raghavan,, "Mubarak’s death elicits mixed emotions in Egypt," 25 Feb. 2020 Instead, the ruling said, there had to be evidence the abuser took action again against the survivor and the school was deliberately indifferent to it. David Jesse, Detroit Free Press, "Federal appeals court continues to rewrite rules on campus sex assault investigations," 2 Mar. 2020 Canadians have been largely indifferent to the arrival of the royal couple. Amanda Coletta, Washington Post, "Canada reveals it’s been providing security to Harry and Meghan — but will cut them off in the ‘coming weeks’," 27 Feb. 2020 But the all-white jurors of the Jim Crow South were notoriously indifferent to legal concepts such as evidence and witness testimony. John Blake, CNN, "There's a painful Black History Month lesson in Trump's impeachment trial," 5 Feb. 2020 Investors who are excited about the social value of your company will ask you a lot of questions about it, while those who only care about the return will be indifferent to your mission. Sonny Tai, Quartz at Work, "How to determine the social value of your startup," 2 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

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Indifferent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 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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Comments on indifferent

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