The Meaning of Indifferent: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of indifferent? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word indifferent, including its definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word indifferent mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word indifferent (pronunciation: ɪnˈdɪfərənt) means unconcerned, incurious, or aloof. This adjective implies a neutrality from a lack of preference. Many different things can be indifferent: an indifferent jury, indifferent health, indifferent singing voice, indifferent specimen, indifferent way, indifferent act, indifferent chemical, indifferent qualifications, indifferent actor, indifferent weather, indifferent average, indifferent roads, indifferent judge, indifferent designers, indifferent style, indifferent reactions, indifferent words, indifferent persons, or even an indifferent amount of energy. This word implies that there is no like or dislike, nor bias or prejudice, no positive or negative. There is simply a lack of interest. A person who is indifferent does not have an especial liking, or might have a limited ability to have an opinion on the subject at hand. The indifferent adjective implies some intermediate feeling on a subject. There is no magnetic quality pulling one’s opinion one way or another. This word is used in both Britain and American English. 

Many different languages also contain words that mean indifferent. This list of translations for the word indifferent is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Tagalog: malatuba‎
  •  German: gleichgültig‎, teilnahmslos‎
  •  Finnish: välinpitämätön‎
  •  Sorani: پشت گوێخستن‎
  •  Maori: arokore‎, haumāruru‎
  •  Scottish Gaelic: coma‎
  •  Catalan: indiferent‎
  •  Hindi: रूखा‎ (rūkhā)
  •  Russian: равноду́шный‎, безразли́чный‎, безуча́стный‎
  •  Swedish: likgiltig‎
  •  Danish: ligeglad‎
  •  Greek: αδιάφορος‎
  •  Spanish: indiferente‎ (masc.) (f)
  •  Dutch: onverschillig‎
  •  Romanian: indiferent‎ (masc.) (n), apatic‎ (masc.) (n)
  •  French: indifférent‎
  •  Italian: indifferente‎
  •  Portuguese: indiferente‎
  •  Polish: obojętny‎ (masc.)
  •  Min Nan: líng-tām‎
  •  Hungarian: közönyös‎
  •  Japanese: 無関心‎, どこ吹く風‎
  •  Czech: lhostejný‎ (masc.)
  •  Turkish: umursamaz‎, ilgisiz‎, kayıtsız‎

How can the word indifferent be used in a sentence?

The counsel was indifferent to the pleas of the defendant. He had no great sympathy despite the passionate juror, and would not release the man despite the donations to his bonds. 

Jamie was indifferent toward matters of religion – she was not particularly religious, but believed people should believe whatever they feel is right, as long as it leads them to heed morality and avoid sin. 

Ava struggled to find a hobby or special interest she liked; she was indifferent toward photography, didn’t want to be a golfer, hated chemistry and biology, and had no rhythm. Disappointed by her mediocrity, he struggled to find acceptance in her particular community – a high school where everyone, on the contrary, was amazing at something, like a gifted painter. 

She was indifferent to the rejection of her invitation to her ex-girlfriend – she didn’t expect her to want to come to the book launch, and had since found acceptance for their breakup. She would have made an apathetic audience anyway. 

The young man was indifferent toward politics. He couldn’t stand the cable-news shows like Tucker Carlson or the Washington Post. Every day, it seemed there was a new subject of intense national controversy, and he felt it was usually an inert manner that would simply be argued in various ways. This lack of partiality led to many of his friends to be angry with him and his lack of political systems.

Maurice felt the stage interpretation of the Pink Panther films were of mediocre quality in a number of ways. The standard of excellence was low, and he felt inferior actors from amateur dramatics societies were hired. He told his friends, who were bloggers on theater, that he was indifferent to the performance at best.

The woman was indifferent toward the tolerable dinner – she has more important things on her mind, like her acceptance to Princeton University, her failing long distance relationship, and how she was going to pay for the electricity demand of a household with no income. 

She felt indifferent toward the unbiasgoted account of her family problems that was published in the paper. With a father in politics, she was used to people who expressed interests of the majority of the world – particularly, her family. 

The computer programmers at the tennis game were indifferent to the outcome of matches – they felt whoever won simply had fate on their side. Despite the gifted spinner of the ball, the game was the object of indifference.

What are synonyms for the word indifferent?

There are many different words that can be used in place of the word indifferent. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning or definition as another word or phrase. Knowing synonyms is very useful if you are trying to avoid repeating yourself or if you want to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word indifferent is provided by Thesaurus

  •  heedless
  •  uncaring
  •  apathetic
  •  silent
  •  unprejudiced
  •  detached
  •  passionless
  •  supercilious
  •  impartial
  •  unimpressed
  •  haughty
  •  inattentive
  •  cool
  •  dispassionate
  •  listless
  •  cold
  •  distant
  •  uninvolved
  •  stoical
  •  nonchalant
  •  unemotional
  •  superior
  •  aloof
  •  objective
  •  unsympathetic
  •  neutral
  •  unsocial
  •  unbiased
  •  phlegmatic
  •  heartless
  •  diffident
  •  unresponsive
  •  equitable
  •  blasé
  •  callous
  •  regardless
  •  unconcerned
  •  unmoved
  •  highbrow
  •  uncommunicative
  •  disinterested
  •  nonpartisan
  •  scornful
  •  impervious
  •  unaroused

What is the origin of the word indifferent?

According to Etymonline, the word indifferent (pronunciation: ɪnˈdɪfrənt) has been used since the late 14th century in Middle English to mean unbiased or impartial, implying a lack of favoritism. This comes from the Old French indifferent meaning impartial and from the Latin indifferentem, from the nominative Latin indifferēns meaning not differing. This comes from the root in meaning opposite of and differēns/differens, the present participle of differre meaning to set apart. Related words include indifference (n.), indifferently (adv.) and differ (v.).

Overall, the word indifferent (in-dif-fer-ent) means unconcerned or aloof. A person who is indifferent does not feel one way or another about something. 

Sources:

  1. Indifferent | Definition of Indifferent | Merriam-Webster 
  2. indifferent | Origin and meaning of indifferent | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  3. INDIFFERENT Synonyms: 60 Synonyms & Antonyms for INDIFFERENT | Thesaurus 
  4. Indifferent | Word Sense