[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. disintegrate,
  2. disintegration,
  3. disintegration constant,
  4. disinter,
  5. disinterest,
  6. disintermediation,
  7. disintoxication,
  8. disinvent,
  9. disinvest,
  10. disinvestment

Origin of disinterested

First recorded in 1605–15; dis-1 + interested

Related formsdis·in·ter·est·ed·ly, adverbdis·in·ter·est·ed·ness, nounnon·dis·in·ter·est·ed, adjective

Can be confuseddisinterested uninterested (see usage note at the current entry)

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.

Origin of disinterest

First recorded in 1605–15; dis-1 + interest

Can be confuseddisinterest uninterest

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for disinterested

British Dictionary definitions for disinterested


/ (dɪsˈɪntrɪstɪd, -tərɪs-) /


free from bias or partiality; objective
not interested
Derived Formsdisinterestedly, adverbdisinterestedness, noun


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


(tr) 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

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