Disinterested vs. Uninterested

How to use "disinterested" and "uninterested" correctly

This is an entry on my list of Common Errors in English Usage. Visit the main page for direct links to additional entries.

Some grammar police insist that disinterested should only be used to mean “unbiased or neutral” and should not be used as a synonym for uninterested (“not interested”). Although the history of the usage of these words is actually more complicated, this distinction is actually a useful one to remember and follow.

a fair, disinterested judgment
have a disinterested observer monitor the fairness of the process

uninterested students snoring and drooling

Related Resources

Common Errors in English Usage: Errors in diction and idiom commonly made by native speakers of English

List of Common Errors in English Usage (PDF): Printable version of the complete list

Common Grammar Errors: A list of common errors in grammar (topics like subject-verb agreement and parallelism) as distinct from usage

List of Common Errors in English Usage: PDF version

© 2006, 2008, and 2019 C. Brantley Collins, Jr.