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Uninterested / Disinterested: “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain

Check this category every week for a new set of ceaselessly confused, misused or misspelled words to master. Break the cycle of language abuse!

Uninterested / Disinterested

We’d be hard-pressed to find two other words that look so much alike and still are so very different. Writers often use them interchangeably which is trouble. So let’s nip this mistake-waiting-to-happen in the bud right now.

Someone who is uninterested is just NOT INTERESTED. He is bored with you, indifferent, apathetic, uncaring. Maybe he’s just tired after a long day. Or maybe he’s a jerk. Whatever the reason, he does not care about the thing you’re trying to tell him. Nope. Not interested. If you’re standing on the front porch, prepare to have the door slammed in your face. THAT’S how uninterested he is.

Someone who is disinterested, on the other hand, might be very interested in what you have to say but is unbiased and can give you a fair and impartial assessment of the issue at hand. She is neutral, unprejudiced, dispassionate and open-minded. She will listen to all the arguments before coming to any conclusion. She’d make a great arbitrator, editor, friend or Supreme Court Justice. It is the disinterested individual who withholds judgment until all the facts are in. That’s a good thing.

So, the difference between uninterested and disinterested in the difference between apathy and fairmindedness. We sure don’t want to mix them up.

Fill in the blanks with the correct word.

  • When the judge took the bench, the lawyers were shocked at how_______she was in the case. She yawned, swiveled in her chair, played with her phone and even did her nails.
  • We thought that the kids would love this story, but they were so _______that they fell asleep early.
  • The cats didn’t like much that wasn’t food, so they were predictably_______in the new baby.
  • Finding a qualified and_______party to give us a fair and unbiased assessment of our manuscript was harder than we thought.
  • The students were usually_______in grammar lessons, but the promise of post-participle cupcakes got their attention.

(Look for answers in the Have / Of entry.)


Answers for Lose / Loose

  1. The casino advertised loose slots but that didn’t keep me from losing all my money.
  2. My crochet stitches were so tight that my work will make a better doormat than a blanket. Since I don’t need another doormat, I’ll have to work on making my stitches looser.
  3. I hate to lose!
  4. The losing team slunk off the field, preparing for a tirade from the coach.
  5. “Call me a loser again and I’ll loosen a few of your teeth!”
  6. Those pants used to be loose, but now I can’t even zip them. I guess I’ll need to lose five or ten or forty pounds.
  7. My new bracelet was a little loose, but I wore it anyway. I never thought I’d lose it—until I did.
  8. If you lose your map, you’ll lose your way.
  9. Hawaiians encourage visitors to lose their worries and hang loose.
  10.  Don’t be that losing loser who loses. Take a breath, loosen your tie and get a handle on those o’s!