Professional Style

Disinterested vs. Uninterested

March 2009
Spot the Error

It was quite obvious to everyone present that Alex was disinterested in identifying “green” initiatives for the office. He doodled on his notepad throughout the entire brainstorming session and never offered a single suggestion or comment.

What Alex displayed was definitely not disinterest. Indifference, maybe. Disdain, quite possibly. Childish, passive-aggressive behavior, most certainly. But not disinterest.

Disinterest means impartial, without bias. For example:

It’s difficult to find a panel of disinterested pageant judges in a small town because everyone is related by either blood or marriage.

In the “meeting” sentence above, Alex is not impartial. As an employee, he has a personal connection with the company and its activities, which creates bias. Alex just lacks interest in the whole green movement; therefore, the appropriate word would be uninterested.

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