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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
First recorded in 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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for disinterestedness
Historical Examples
  • The purity and disinterestedness of their conduct should be made apparent.

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

    Her Father's Daughter Gene Stratton-Porter
  • "What a chaste specimen of disinterestedness her Ladyship's own letter," said Mary.

    Roland Cashel Charles James Lever
  • His loyalty, his disinterestedness, his honesty, all established.

    Barrington Charles James Lever
  • What strikes one most in his work is the disinterestedness of the toiler.

  • But, dear, don't you see that it proves the reality, the disinterestedness of your love for him?

    Nell, of Shorne Mills

    Charles Garvice
  • But the emperor's disinterestedness was only the result of his despondency.

    The Reign of Mary Tudor W. Llewelyn Williams.
  • He wound up his discourse with some theatrical talk about disinterestedness.

  • Heroism and disinterestedness are rising up, here and there, in the earth.

    Uncle Tom's Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • And yet he was prepared to go still further in disinterestedness.

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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