“DISINTERESTED” OR “UNINTERESTED”? Louis Menand, a scholar I admire for his articles and for his book THE METAPHYSICAL CLUB), has an article in the New Yorker (September 5) in which he says:

“People also like to feel that they know what’s correct and what isn’t, and thus belong to a privileged minority. It doesn’t matter what Webster’s Third tells me: I will always feel superior to a person who says, ‘I am totally disinterested in that subject’….”

Now that I have adopted usage as the test, I can be both disinterested and uninterested in the controversy. By the time you have heard a misuse of a word often enough to be irritated by it rather than amused, it will have been used enough to qualify as a secondary definition of the word. So I should accept the usage of “reticent” to mean “reluctant”; of “parameter” to mean “perimeter”; or of “prevaricate” to mean “procrastinate”. And “disinterested” can mean “uninterested”.

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