Uninterested and disinterested are often used interchangeably, and yet they have two very distinct meanings. Pretty interesting, right? Or perhaps you’re uninterested in the uninterested vs. disinterested debate. You could also be disinterested. Or maybe you’re both! So what’s the difference?
Un Is No Fun
If you’re uninterested in the uninterested vs. disinterested debate, you’re either bored, unconcerned, or indifferent. You don’t care. You’re apathetic. Being uninterested in something is the flipside of being interested in something. Let’s look at some examples.
- While most of the class clearly found the film interesting, the teacher caught a few students doodling and looking at their phones, seemingly uninterested in the events on screen.
- She usually loved museums but quickly grew uninterested in the exhibit on the history of gravel.
- Uninterested in the epic battle unfolding before him, Murgatroyd went back to his book while the dragons raged on.
Dis Ain’t Fair
If you’re disinterested in the uninterested vs. disinterested debate, you’re objective, impartial, unbiased. You have no skin in the game. If you’re convening a jury, you want a disinterested group of people rather than uninterested group of people. If you’re being accused of a crime, you want a disinterested judge rather than an uninterested one. Here are a few more examples.
- After catching the judge high-fiving the defendant before the trial began, I began to suspect he wasn’t a truly disinterested participant.
- I appreciated the disinterested advice the therapist gave me after I explained the incident at the pizza place.
- I was afraid of what my sister would say, but her disinterested reaction was a welcome surprise.
Uninterested vs. Disinterested: Why Not Both?
While the two words mean different things, you can be both uninterested and disinterested. Although it would not be ideal, a judge can be unbiased toward a trial while also being bored by it. A student can simultaneously not care about a film while also having no opinion on its content. These words can exist together, but you have to know how to use them.
Now that you know the difference between uninterested and disinterested, the world of dispassion and impartiality is yours for the taking! And don’t forget to check out some of Elite’s other blogs on common grammatical puzzles, such as biennial vs. biannual, affect vs. effect, and caramel vs. Carmel.