Disinterested and Uninterested

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What is the difference between disinterested and uninterested?

Disinterested means impartial.
Uninterested means not interested.

Disinterested and Uninterested

The words disinterested and uninterested do not mean the same thing; i.e., they are not synonyms.

Disinterested

Disinterested means not taking sides or impartial. It is usually used to describe a person with no personal benefit at stake.
  • We are struggling to identify twelve disinterested people for the jury.
  • (We are struggling to identify twelve disinterested people.)
  • An investigation into the penalty decision has reportedly uncovered that the referee was not disinterested in the outcome of the match.
  • (The referee had a personal interest in one particular side winning.)
  • Most of the spectators at the football match were disinterested.
  • (This is only correct if the writer means that most the spectators did not support one side or the other. The match may have been very interesting.)

Uninterested

Uninterested means not interested. It is the consequence of something being uninteresting (i.e., boring or uneventful).
  • Paul, I am quickly becoming uninterested in your ideas.
  • (Paul's ideas arouse no interest.)
  • I used to collect stamps, but I am uninterested these days.
  • (I find it boring these days.)

A Short Video on Uninterested and Disinterested

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A Referee Is Disinterested

This sentence may help you to remember that disinterested means impartial:
  • Do not disrespect the referee. He is disinterested.

An impartial (or disinterested) referee


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