If you can't decide whether to purchase the shirt with orange polka dots or the purple paisley-patterned one, you might seek input from a disinterested, or unbiased, party (who will probably tell you not to buy either one).

Depending on whom you ask, disinterested is either one of the most commonly misused words in the English language, or a perfect example of usage experts and English teachers being way too uptight. While everyone agrees that disinterested can mean “unbiased,” the debate rages on as to whether it can also mean “uninterested” or “indifferent.” Sticklers are vehemently opposed to this secondary meaning. (Of course, you’ll also find the disinterested — or uninterested? — folks who couldn’t care less.)

Definitions of disinterested
  1. adjective
    unaffected by self-interest
    showing lack of favoritism
Commonly confused words

disinterested / uninterested

If you’re disinterested, you’re unbiased; you’re out of the loop. But if you’re uninterested, you don’t give a hoot; you’re bored. These two words have been duking it out, but the battle may be over for uninterested. Heavyweight disinterested has featherweight uninterested on the ropes.

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Word Family

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