Disinterested vs Uninterested: Examples & Meaning

Grammar Rules updated on  February 22, 2024 2 min read

Disinterested means you have nothing to gain, but uninterested means you just don’t care.

The difference between the prefixes in these words is relatively subtle, so it might seem like you could use them interchangeably. However, these words are commonly confused and cannot be used in place of one another.

Disinterested vs uninterested definitions

disinterested (adj.): having no interest (in the sense of participation, responsibility, investment, potential profit, or opinion); unbiased or impartial

uninterested (adj): showing no interest (in the sense of concern or attention); uncaring or bored

There is also a more recently developed meaning of disinterested: no longer interested, implying that at one time a person or entity was interested but no longer cares (they’ve become uninterested).

This meaning makes sense because we often use the prefix dis- to indicate a situation has changed: for instance, inherent in the word disengage is the idea that the subject was once engaged.

What is the difference between uninterested vs disinterested?

Uninterested is more about interest as a type of attention., while disinterested has a stronger focus on interest as a type of investment or involvement in something.

A person can be disinterested and still care about or want to pay attention to something. Disinterest simply means they have no bias or nothing to gain from it.

Disinterested vs uninterested: Examples and use cases

Use disinterested when you’re talking about someone who is unbiased, has no opinion or investment in something, or once cared but now doesn’t.

Use uninterested when a person simply has no care or concern about something or isn’t paying attention.

Example: Disinterested and uninterested in a sentence
As part of the team’s ownership group, Rashad Jones was not just a disinterested observer at games. His girlfriend Kelly was uninterested, though; she didn’t even like football.
Examples: Disinterested in a sentence
The prosecutor and defense attorney ask the citizens questions, then choose the most disinterested ones to serve on the jury. (unbiased)
Since corporations often donate money to politicians, the average voter does not believe candidates’ claims of disinterest when it comes to corporate regulations. (having nothing to gain)
When Isa found out her boyfriend was cheating on her, she became disinterested in continuing the relationship. (no longer interested)
Examples: Uninterested in a sentence
After interviewing for jobs at a restaurant and a movie theater, Mike decided he was uninterested in the restaurant position.
Marisol had joined an AA group but hesitated to share her story since she thought the other members would be uninterested.
It’s tough to keep reunions going with uninterested family members.

If you’re uninterested in trying to remember the difference between disinterested and uninterested, you might be interested in QuillBot. Our Grammar Checker knows the difference every time thanks to AI—it’s seen the words used in thousands of contexts and learned their meanings, so you can trust it to get it right.

Are disinterested and uninterested interchangeable?

No, disinterested and uninterested are not interchangeable. Disinterested means not invested, not involved, or not biased. But uninterested means not caring or not paying attention.

What is a synonym for uninterested?

Some synonyms and near-synonyms for uninterested include the following:

  • Apathetic
  • Indifferent
  • Incurious
  • Unconcerned

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Hannah Skaggs

Along with Paige Pfeifer

Hannah, a writer and editor since 2017, specializes in clear and concise academic and business writing. She has mentored countless scholars and companies in writing authoritative and engaging content.

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