English Lesson: “Disinterested” vs. “Uninterested”

One of my concerns here in Fox and Hedgehog land is language.  Language matters, because language expresses and enables thought.  The right words used in the right way can help us express exactly what we want to express.  One of our occasional features here on the Hedgeblog will be about the proper use of words; I want to help you avoid the mistake of using one word when you ought to use another.  In our first installment, I’m talking about the words “uninterested” and “disinterested.”  What’s the difference?


Today, people often use the word “disinterested” when what they really mean is “uninterested.”  The two words should not be interchangeable: disinterest means something different than uninterest.  Disinterest does not mean a lack of interest or curiosity; rather, a disinterested party is one that is impartial, that has no stake or interest in the argument.

So, e.g., I am uninterested in the outcome of The Bachelorette: i.e., I don’t care and I don’t want to care.

To cite another example: a judge in a courtroom should be disinterested but not uninterested.

Make sense?

Hillary Clinton and James Comey

FBI Director James Comey was clearly not uninterested in Hillary Clinton’s emails; a better question: was Director Comey disinterested?

See why language matters?



I’m not picking on the Democrats; I don’t know anything about indictments and security clearances and the like–the Clinton email example is just one picked from today’s headlines.




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