‘Disinterested’ or ‘uninterested’?


The difference between disinterested and uninterested is often controversial. According to traditional guidelines, disinterested should never be used to mean not interested’ (i.e. it is not a synonym for uninterested) but only to mean ‘impartial’, as in 'the judgements of disinterested outsiders are likely to be more useful'. Ironically, the earliest recorded sense of disinterested is for the disputed sense. Today, the ‘incorrect’ use of disinterested is widespread: around a quarter of citations in the Oxford English Corpus for disinterested are for this sense.

Read more about usage changes and the Oxford English Corpus on the OxfordWords blog.


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