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Disinterested is not the same as uninterested

(24 Posts)
Trills Tue 30-Oct-12 08:15:19

We already have a word that means "not interested". It's "uninterested".

If you use disinterested to mean not interested then you are depriving the language of a separate word with a separate meaning.

If you are disinterested you are unbiased, you have no personal interest in the matter.

A good police officer is disinterested but not uninterested.

As is traditional for Pedants' Corner I fully expect to have made an error in my typing above. smile

MrsVincentPrice Tue 30-Oct-12 08:18:22


RikersWeeeiiirrrd Tue 30-Oct-12 08:20:05

I didn't know this, thank you trills
<every day is a learning day> grin

I shall start using "uninterested" forthwith, and wait to see how long it is before someone tries to correct me

germyrabbit Tue 30-Oct-12 08:20:53

how disinteresting grin

LollopingLil Tue 30-Oct-12 08:21:36

Oh god, I know. This one really racks me off.

somebloke123 Tue 30-Oct-12 10:17:12

Absolutely. You mix up two words and you end up with two that are taken to mean the same thing and the loss of a distinct word.

Other ones:

Refute and deny;
Mitigate and militate;
Surprised and astonished.

CatWithKittens Tue 30-Oct-12 16:14:43

You can add 'infer' and 'imply' to that list - the misuse of 'infer' drives me up the wall.

UltraBOF Tue 30-Oct-12 16:25:03

What really boils my piss about this is that eventually, some sources start to acknowledge the popular (mis)usage as a 'variant', and then you get the people who say "Oh, but don't you know that language evolves..." angry maintaining that it's just as valid nowadays. No, it isn't. It just means that we have all rolled over and let sloppy thinking win.

May I add the current curse of sending out "invites" to a party, instead of "invitations"?

MrsVincentPrice Tue 30-Oct-12 16:30:55

No you may not add that BOF. Invites was not previously a noun, so using it as an abbreviation for "invitations" in no way stops people using it as the third person singular present tense of "to invite". You will give right thinking disinterested/uninterested infer/imply pedants a bad name.

<<defends Purity of Thread with small barbed wire fence>>

UltraBOF Tue 30-Oct-12 16:37:51

True, true. It does, however, mean that the distinction between invitations and invites becomes lost over time. But I take your point.

YokoUhOh Tue 30-Oct-12 16:59:00

I pointed this out on a thread a few weeks ago, no-one listened sad definitely time it had its own thread. 'Disinterested' is the most incorrectly used word on mumsnet.

YokoUhOh Tue 30-Oct-12 17:00:30

'Invites' is a different matter altogether. We don't call 'records' 'recordings' these days.

ScarahScreams Tue 30-Oct-12 17:04:14

Hallelujah !

VintageRainBoots Tue 30-Oct-12 17:08:01

I feel this way about the word "terrific." It's come to mean excellent, with no connotation of "terror" that it's supposed to have.

Or "anxious." Here in the US, people use "anxious" in place of "eager," but in situations that produce zero anxiety confused. Anxiety is a big part of the description of "anxious" and people seem to have forgotten that. They're misusing the word.

MirandaGoshawk Wed 31-Oct-12 19:23:30

I'm fed up with discrete and discreet being interchanged here on MN.

FraterculaArctica Wed 31-Oct-12 19:25:52

Thank goodness someone has finally pointed this out. 'Disinterested' gets misused everywhere, even the Guardian. I often find myself having to pull up my boss (university professor) on this one.

somebloke123 Thu 01-Nov-12 10:36:39

Another one is "raise the question" and "beg the question".,37288023

ISeeThreadPeople Thu 01-Nov-12 10:44:40

I mentioned this a few weeks ago.

The problem is that unless you have a specific interest in or love of grammar and linguistics, you tend to have pedants' corner hidden. It's the right place for the thread (hurrah) but the serial offenders won't get this message.

Can I add the word 'ambivalent' to the misuse list. It does not mean uninterested.

Daddelion Thu 01-Nov-12 10:49:23

But I thought language did evolve over time?

'Enormity' is a word that I always notice used incorrectly, but now seems to be changing its meaning.

Trills Thu 01-Nov-12 10:56:08

Language does evolve over time, but we are allowed to object when it appears to be "evolving" in a way that means we have fewer words with distinct meanings and therefore less complexity and richness in the way that we can express ourselves.

Daddelion Thu 01-Nov-12 11:11:20

I agree and do object.

But I can't see how it can be stopped.

Them and those is another bugbear.

bachsingingmum Fri 16-Nov-12 13:26:58

I learned this one at school. Our English book had a lovely cartoon of a bewigged judge with his chin on the bench snoring away.

KristinaM Sat 24-Nov-12 00:04:12

Thanks for making this terrific point trills wink

I noticed this error on a thread the other day. The poster was claiming that she was very intellectual and academic hmm

KristinaM Sat 24-Nov-12 00:06:05

I was sorely tempted to point this out. The only reason I didn't is that I am the worst typist on MN. Apart from the late great Cod of course.

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