Printable Version
Pronunciation: dis-in-tri-stid Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Unbiased, objective, having no vested interest in; indifferent, lacking interest in.

Notes: Oddly enough, "not interested" (i.e. "uninterested) is the oldest meaning of today's word, dating back to the 17th century. In the 18th century that meaning was slowly replaced by the meaning above, but in the early part of the 20th century, it began to creep back into usage. Most dictionaries now accept both meanings; however, since we have two words and two meanings, why not enjoy the subtle semantic variation they provide? The verb, to disinterest, means to "free of self-interest, to make indifferent."

In Play: Here is a conversation many of us parents can identify with, demonstrating the distinct sense of today's word: "I'm not interested in any of my classes in school today, mom; can I stay home?" "No, you have to learn all your subjects even when you are uninterested in some." "Mom, you just want me out of the house; you're hardly a disinterested party."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Old French, derived from Latin interest "it is of importance", the 3rd singular present tense of interesse "to be between" and, later, "to be important". Dis- is a familiar negative prefix. The root of this word consists of inter "between" + esse "to be". Not only does English essence derive from the latter Latin word, but yes comes from the same PIE root, es- "to be", which was realized in English as is. Old English gese "so be it", comprising ge "so" + sie "may it be so", today is yes. At the same time, swastika comes from Sanskrit svasti "well-being", based on su (= sv before vowels) "good" + asti "being", the latter also a descendant of the same root. (David Brown of Bailly-Romainvilliers, France isn't disinterested in the correct use of today word, for 'twas he who suggested disinterested as today's extremely interesting Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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