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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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for disinterestedness
Historical Examples
  • Dwelling in a house where disinterestedness and noble labor were as daily breath, she had great opportunities.

  • She felt sorry for him, had no doubt of the genuineness of his affection, or his disinterestedness.

    The Secret House Edgar Wallace
  • He had entertained high ideas of woman's purity, of woman's devotedness, of woman's disinterestedness, and what was he to think?

  • Linda realized that she had overdone her disinterestedness a trifle.

    Her Father's Daughter Gene Stratton-Porter
  • Jeanie Deans is a model of good sense, strong affection, resolution, and disinterestedness.

  • "What a chaste specimen of disinterestedness her Ladyship's own letter," said Mary.

    Roland Cashel Charles James Lever
  • disinterestedness, fidelity, and love are themes of praise everywhere.

    How to Observe Harriet Martineau
  • His loyalty, his disinterestedness, his honesty, all established.

    Barrington Charles James Lever
  • Frederick William could no longer wage a sham warfare nor cover hostile intentions by a pretense of disinterestedness.

    The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte William Milligan Sloane
  • But, dear, don't you see that it proves the reality, the disinterestedness of your love for him?

    Nell, of Shorne Mills Charles Garvice
British Dictionary definitions for disinterestedness


/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
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 disinterestedness



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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