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[dis-in-tuh-res-tid, -tri-stid] /dɪsˈɪn təˌrɛs tɪd, -trɪ stɪd/
unbiased by personal interest or advantage; not influenced by selfish motives:
a disinterested decision by the referee.
not interested; indifferent.
Origin of disinterested
1605-15; dis-1 + interested
Related forms
disinterestedly, adverb
disinterestedness, noun
nondisinterested, adjective
Can be confused
disinterested, uninterested (see usage note at the current entry)
1. impartial, neutral, unprejudiced, dispassionate. See fair1 .
1. partial, biased.
Usage note
Disinterested and uninterested share a confused and confusing history. Disinterested was originally used to mean “not interested, indifferent”; uninterested in its earliest use meant “impartial.” By various developmental twists, disinterested is now used in both senses. Uninterested is used mainly in the sense “not interested, indifferent.” It is occasionally used to mean “not having a personal or property interest.”
Many object to the use of disinterested to mean “not interested, indifferent.” They insist that disinterested can mean only “impartial”: A disinterested observer is the best judge of behavior. However, both senses are well established in all varieties of English, and the sense intended is almost always clear from the context.


[dis-in-ter-ist, -trist] /dɪsˈɪn tər ɪst, -trɪst/
absence of interest; indifference.
verb (used with object)
to divest of interest or concern.
1605-15; dis-1 + interest
Can be confused
disinterest, uninterest. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for disinterested
  • But there are a handful of more disinterested views of the settlement.
  • By doing so, it turns disinterested onlookers in my family into interested participants with a surprisingly human experience.
  • No intelligent disinterested citizen would willingly select such a pavement at his own proper expense.
  • So, those shy students and/or disinterested students all sit there.
  • But there are a handful of more disinterested people, and they mostly criticise the settlement.
  • She denies that they were prompted by any disinterested considerations in coming to our rescue.
  • One prisoner apparently was a disinterested spectator who had a pistol in his pocket.
  • The faculty members were all swamped with large teaching loads, and the graduate students seemed disinterested.
  • The panel seems to regard these pieces as disinterested science, rather than counter-advocacy from committed environmentalists.
  • The military bureaucracy has been disinterested in her work on protecting civilians for years.
British Dictionary definitions for disinterested


/dɪsˈɪntrɪstɪd; -tərɪs-/
free from bias or partiality; objective
not interested
Derived Forms
disinterestedly, adverb
disinterestedness, noun
Usage note
Many people consider that the use of disinterested to mean not interested is incorrect and that uninterested should be used


/dɪsˈɪntrɪst; -tərɪst/
freedom from bias or involvement
lack of interest; indifference
(transitive) to free from concern for personal interests
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for disinterested

1610s, "unconcerned," the sense we now would ascribe to uninterested, with the sense of "impartial" going to disinteressed (c.1600). See dis- + interest. Modern sense of disinterested is first attested 1650s. As things now stand, disinterested means "free from personal bias," while uninterested means "caring nothing for the matter in question." Related: Disinterestedly; disinterestedness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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