Definition of disinterested in English:



  • 1Not influenced by considerations of personal advantage:

    ‘a banker is under an obligation to give disinterested advice’
    • ‘An adjudicator must be, and must be seen to be, disinterested, unbiased and impartial.’
    • ‘Hutton is represented as dignified and fair - a disinterested figure, who stands above the grubby world of politics.’
    • ‘I'd say that's about as far from a disinterested, objective party as you could possibly find to provide analysis.’
    • ‘The fact is she is not a dispassionate or disinterested witness in this case.’
    • ‘This view must surely add to growing pressure for a rethink of this process of giving disinterested information to people.’
    • ‘As a family friend with no further ambitions, he was able to offer disinterested advice to the inexperienced future president.’
    • ‘Rather, it argues that progress is an effect of disinterested activity for social justice.’
    • ‘Now suppose that voters behave as unselfish, disinterested judges of what is best.’
    • ‘There is no reason why the relevant disinterested person should not be found elsewhere within the company or, indeed, outside it.’
    • ‘Then you outsiders - you impartial, disinterested observers - you come in and split the difference.’
    • ‘Who better to instigate this investigation than a disinterested neutral party like the Sierra Club?’
    • ‘He argued that Carson, while claiming to be a disinterested patriot, was defending the private interests of profiteering firms.’
    • ‘In all fairness, it would also seem that an objective, disinterested party should review the current planning and its impact on such history.’
    • ‘That part is selfless, both in the sense of being disinterested and in the sense of being detached from personal feeling.’
    • ‘No matter how learned and disinterested those special interest groups may be, I know which society I would prefer to live in.’
    • ‘They can also offer a disinterested discussion of the public interest, of why it matters that television is honest and truthful.’
    • ‘Now, this notion of disinterested advice may also repay a claimant's examination.’
    • ‘Nor is the ‘freedom to search’ as disinterested and neutral an injunction as it appears.’
    • ‘The Fourth Amendment does not contemplate the executive officers of Government as neutral and disinterested magistrates.’
    • ‘This is not to say that there are not some disinterested and honourable people.’
    unbiased, unprejudiced, impartial, neutral, non-partisan, non-discriminatory, detached, uninvolved, objective, dispassionate, impersonal, clinical
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  • 2Having or feeling no interest in something; uninterested:

    ‘her father was so disinterested in her progress that he only visited the school once’
    • ‘A group of men and women in red uniforms walked around the side of the ship, looking bored and disinterested in what they were about to do.’
    • ‘I phone roughly 150 people and get one ‘maybe’ from a rather disinterested member.’
    • ‘He was disinterested, couldn't engage with people from all walks of life in Tasmania.’
    • ‘With this new and bold initiative, we have shown to the world that Indian women are not politically passive or disinterested in public life.’
    • ‘At one in the morning, the Canadian border patrol guards were bored and disinterested.’
    • ‘I think that, you know, going back to that other point, people may be disinterested.’
    • ‘There were three disinterested people at the other end of the platform, waiting for a train.’
    • ‘Counsel asked to adjourn to the next day as the witness seemed like she was disinterested and unresponsive to questions.’
    • ‘Yet many people are entirely disinterested in ‘Westminster Village’ chatter.’
    • ‘If you are utterly disinterested in your neighbor's sexuality, your indifference is not oppression.’
    • ‘Governments in Australia need to be interested in productivity but they appear fundamentally disinterested.’
    • ‘Ray McKinnon, who had looked disinterested for much of the first half, began to boss the midfield and a winner for the home side didn't look impossible.’
    • ‘A few women, however, began disinterested and grew more interested in the program over time.’
    • ‘Small wonder younger people are so disinterested in serving the community.’
    • ‘At the signing, Williams stood alone, the people were absent, distant and disinterested.’
    • ‘So, there's been no break, no lull for people to get disinterested in it.’
    • ‘I wanted to ask him how he keeps doing what he does every day, even when his students seemed completely disinterested in the things that light him up.’
    • ‘For people absolutely disinterested in managing their own finances, annuities offered a simple menu.’
    • ‘I fear the final result will be a disinterested citizenry who are non-participants in their own affairs.’
    • ‘The range of emotions stretched from bored to pensive to disinterested as he took the blows.’
    uninterested, indifferent, incurious, unconcerned, unmoved, unresponsive, impassive, passive, detached, unfeeling, uncaring, unenthusiastic, lukewarm, bored, apathetic, blasé, nonchalant
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Nowhere are the battle lines more deeply drawn in usage questions than over the difference between disinterested and uninterested. According to traditional guidelines, disinterested should never be used to mean ‘not interested’ (i.e. it is not a synonym for uninterested) but only to mean ‘impartial’, as in the judgements of disinterested outsiders are likely to be more useful. Ironically, the earliest recorded sense of disinterested is for the disputed sense. Today, the ‘incorrect’ use of disinterested is widespread: around a quarter of citations in the Oxford English Corpus for disinterested are for this sense


Early 17th century: past participle of the rare verb disinterest ‘rid of interest or concern’, from dis- (expressing removal) + interest.