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  • O Level English Editorial

Disinterested vs Uninterested

Updated: Aug 16, 2018


These two words are often regarded as interchangeable and are sometimes confused. Do you know the distinction between these two words?

When do you use these words? Check if these statements are accurate or incorrectly used.
  1. Mary found Jane's offer of an unsecured loan to be not disinteresting.

  2. A judge is expected to be disinterested in the cases that he tries.

  3. It isn't that I'm uninterested in sudoku puzzles - it's just that I haven't had much free time these days.

  4. Chris and I both believe that you are entirely disinterested, so we would be happy for you to hold the stakes when we make our bet.

  5. Sally was excited when she viewed what might become their new BTO flat, but Tim seemed entirely disinterested.

NOTE: The distinction between disinterested and uninterested is often controversial. According to traditional guidelines, disinterested means "impartial", and applied to anyone who may be involved in a decision but has nothing either to gain or to lose by its outcome. Uninterested means "indifferent, unconcerned, and bored" and is applied to individuals who cannot summon up any interest in the outcome. Today, the ‘incorrect’ use of disinterested is still widespread.

Answers:

  1. Incorrect use of the word. In this sentence, Mary is uninterested in the offer of the unsecured loan. Also, do note that the double negatives of "not dis-" should be avoided.

  2. Correct. In this sentence, the judge is expected to be impartial in his ruling. Conversely, a judge who was uninterested in the case before him would probably miss out on the salient points, and might even doze off to sleep.

  3. Correct.

  4. Correct.

  5. Incorrect use of the word. Tim was definitely not impartial when viewing the flat, instead he was probably feeling bored. In this case, uninterested should be used.

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