Wordwatch Towers

A plain language guide to punctuation, grammar and writing well.

Disinterested and uninterested

with 2 comments

English: Hand I'm bored Español: Mano I'm bored

‘Disinterested’ means to be impartial or neutral, for example:

She was a disinterested observer at the meeting.

‘Uninterested’ means to be bored and have no interest in what is going on, for example:

She was completely uninterested in the meeting.

More commonly confused words

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2 Responses

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  1. Pat O’Conner suggests that, since the words have such messy etymologies, and they’re now so skunked that many readers would confuse them, it’s safer to use “not interested” for uninterested and something like “impartial” or “unbiased” for disinterested. She noted it’s better to be understood than to be correct. At least, that was her disinterested opinion.

    Michael Farrell

    19/01/2010 at 6:50 am

    • Yes — that’s an excellent way round the problem. Thanks for that, Michael.

      Deborah

      19/01/2010 at 7:23 am


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