adjective Date: circa 1612 1. a. not having the mind or feelings engaged ; not interested <
telling them in a disinterested voice — Tom Wicker
disinterested in women — J. A. Brussel
b. no longer interested <
husband and wife become disinterested in each other — T. I. Rubin
2. free from selfish motive or interest ; unbiased <
a disinterested decision
disinterested intellectual curiosity is the lifeblood of real civilization — G. M. Trevelyan
Synonyms: see indifferentdisinterestedly adverb Usage: Disinterested and uninterested have a tangled history. Uninterested originally meant impartial, but this sense fell into disuse during the 18th century. About the same time the original sense of disinterested also disappeared, with uninterested developing a new sense—the present meaning—to take its place. The original sense of uninterested is still out of use, but the original sense of disinterested revived in the early 20th century. The revival has since been under frequent attack as an illiteracy and a blurring or loss of a useful distinction. Actual usage shows otherwise. Sense 2 of disinterested is still its most frequent sense, especially in edited prose; it shows no sign of vanishing. A careful writer may choose sense 1a of disinterested in preference to uninterested for emphasis <
teaching the letters of the alphabet to her wiggling and supremely disinterested little daughter — C. L. Sulzberger
. Further, disinterested has developed a sense (1b), perhaps influenced by sense 1 of the prefix dis-, that contrasts with uninterested <
when I grow tired or disinterested in anything, I experience a disgust — Jack London (letter, 1914)
. Still, use of senses 1a and 1b will incur the disapproval of some who may not fully appreciate the history of this word or the subtleties of its present use.

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • disinterested — 1. The use of disinterested to mean ‘uninterested’, although not a problem to Fowler (1926), is a keyword in current debates about correct usage. Those who rage most furiously are not always aware, however, that the word has changed its principal …   Modern English usage

  • disinterested — dis·in·ter·est·ed /dis in tə rəs təd, in trəs , in tə ˌres / adj: free of any interest esp. of a pecuniary nature: impartial a disinterested person to witness the will Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • Disinterested — Dis*in ter*est*ed, a. [Cf. {Disinteressed}.] Not influenced by regard to personal interest or advantage; free from selfish motive; having no relation of interest or feeling; not biased or prejudiced; as, a disinterested decision or judge. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • disinterested — 1610s, unconcerned, the sense we now would ascribe to UNINTERESTED (Cf. uninterested), with the sense of impartial going to disinteressed (c.1600). See DIS (Cf. dis ) + INTEREST (Cf. interest). Modern sense of disinterested is first attested… …   Etymology dictionary

  • disinterested — ► ADJECTIVE 1) not influenced by considerations of personal advantage; impartial. 2) having or feeling no interest. DERIVATIVES disinterestedly adverb disinterestedness noun. USAGE There is a difference between disinterested and uninterested …   English terms dictionary

  • disinterested — uninterested, detached, aloof, unconcerned, *indifferent, incurious Analogous words: dispassionate, unbiased, impartial, *fair, just: *neutral, negative Antonyms: interested: prejudiced, biased …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • disinterested — [adj] detached, uninvolved aloof, candid, casual, dispassionate, equitable, even handed, impartial, impersonal, incurious, indifferent, just watching the clock*, lackadaisical, negative, neutral, nonpartisan, not giving a damn*, outside,… …   New thesaurus

  • disinterested — [dis in′trəs tid, disint′ər əs tid] adj. 1. not influenced by personal interest or selfish motives; impartial; unbiased 2. uninterested; indifferent: this usage, a revival of an obsolete meaning, is objected to by some SYN. INDIFFERENT… …   English World dictionary

  • disinterested — [[t]dɪsɪ̱ntrəstɪd[/t]] 1) ADJ GRADED Someone who is disinterested is not involved in a particular situation or not likely to benefit from it and is therefore able to act in a fair and unselfish way. The current sole superpower is far from being a …   English dictionary

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