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Disinterested and Uninterested - Mixed messages and misused words from A to Z

Disinterested and Uninterested - Mixed messages and misused words from A to Z

Don’t look now, but these two words do not share the same meaning. In fact, one may raise our hackles much more than the other.

Here’s the basic breakdown between disinterested and uninterested – for those who are interested.

A person who is disinterested is merely neutral. He has no vested interest in a subject and may be regarded as wholly impartial. He may even be altogether ignorant of an issue. An uninterested person may be more apathetic, or even bored, perhaps deliberately tuning out a topic. 

Uninterest is equivalent to indifference, while disinterest implies a more unintentional distance.

Consider the contrast in this example.

Karl assumed his pretty new classmate was uninterested in him, but she was merely disinterested. She simply hadn’t noticed him yet. What could he do to pique her interest?

Misused word pair
Created by this user
At CoolText
 Abused and misused word graphics
adapted from public domain artwork

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  1. I love words and so I appreciated your post. Thanks for bringing clarity.

  2. This is one of my biggest bugaboos! I hate it when people say "disinterested" for "uninterested," and I seem to be hearing that more and more. The distinction is an important one, and unfortunately we seem to be blurring and losing the distinctions between many words and making our language poorer in the process. Thanks for calling attention to this.

  3. Great tips! I love your site! I often struggle with words that are alike but have different meanings, so thank you for sharing! And thanks for your comment on my blog as well!

  4. Excellent post!! These are two words I had not thought to differentiate! Cheers, Jenn


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