Monday, May 19, 2008

"Disinterested" and "Uninterested"

Levels of Distractibility: Who cares? = *. Some people will be distracted from your meaning: = **. Many people will be distracted from your meaning: = ***.

Question: What's wrong with "He appears to be disinterested in what he is doing?"

Answer: If he is "DISinterested," he is objective, able to judge fairly an issue that others care deeply about. It is pretty obvious from the context of this sentence that he is "UNinterested," therefore, bored, therefore not putting much energy into it.

If I want someone to decide an issue that is important to me, like the results of a trial, I am expecting the jury to be impartial, therefore, disinterested. On the other hand, if I am employing someone to work hard at a task, I will be most upset if that person is uninterested in what he is doing.

We all have our pet hates when it comes to English usage. The difference between "disinterested" and "uninterested" is my SECOND most pet hate. The first? "Irregardless." RayS.

Rating of Distractibility: ***.

"Disinterested" = impartial; "uninterested" = bored. (***)

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