[dis-in-tuh-res-tid, -tri-stid]
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  1. unbiased by personal interest or advantage; not influenced by selfish motives: a disinterested decision by the referee.
  2. not interested; indifferent.

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)

Synonyms for disinterested

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Antonyms for disinterested

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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for disinterestedness

Historical Examples of disinterestedness

  • 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.


    Charles James Lever

  • What strikes one most in his work is the disinterestedness of the toiler.

British Dictionary definitions for disinterestedness


  1. free from bias or partiality; objective
  2. 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
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 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