What is the meaning of indifference

Indifference Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster

in·​dif·​fer·​ence in-ˈdi-f(ə-)rən(t)s 



: the quality, state, or fact of being indifferent



: absence of compulsion to or toward one thing or another


archaic : lack of difference or distinction between two or more things


  • apathy
  • casualness
  • complacence
  • disinterestedness
  • disregard
  • incuriosity
  • incuriousness
  • insouciance
  • nonchalance
  • torpor
  • unconcern

See all Synonyms & Antonyms in Thesaurus 

Example Sentences

She was amazed that some people could watch the trial with indifference. She watched them with a cool indifference.

Recent Examples on the Web If the opposite of hate is indifference, suffice it to say that most workers in the U.S. aren’t quite indifferent toward their employers. Jane Thier, Fortune, 15 Nov. 2022 This is a direct result of a rising cesspool of white nationalism, but indifference can be just as much of a killer. Mike Freeman, USA TODAY, 12 Nov. 2022 Until now at least, the main emotion (or rather, its absence) felt here was indifference. Andrei Kolesnikov, CNN, 21 Sep. 2022 So, this time, society’s customary indifference is absent. David Remnick, The New Yorker, 28 Feb. 2022 Those feeling indifference are less than 33% as likely to recommend the organization’s products and services as energized employees, and only one-third as likely to report safety issues. Jack Kelly, Forbes, 28 Oct. 2021 Both versions, to be clear, are shameful, small-scale stunts that are unlikely to benefit the confused communities of color being treated with manifest indifference, if not malice. Philip Elliott, Time, 16 Sep. 2022 For each victim, she is charged with murder, murder with depraved indifference to human life and murder of a victim under 11 years old, officials said. Bill Hutchinson, ABC News, 14 Sep. 2022 That’s left many local residents changing their minds about the race; still others greeted the whole firestorm with indifference. Danny Mcdonald, BostonGlobe.com, 29 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'indifference.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler

The first known use of indifference was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near




indifference curve

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Cite this Entry



“Indifference.Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/indifference. Accessed 11 Dec. 2022.

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Kids Definition



in·​dif·​fer·​ence in-ˈdif-ərn(t)s 



: lack of feeling for or against something


: lack of importance

a matter of indifference to them

Medical Definition



in·​dif·​fer·​ence in-ˈdif-ərn(t)s, -ˈdif-(ə-)rən(t)s 

: the quality, state, or fact of being indifferent

a schizophrenic reaction accompanied by apathy and indifference

More from Merriam-Webster on


Nglish: Translation of indifference for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of indifference for Arabic Speakers

Britannica. com: Encyclopedia article about indifference

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Merriam-Webster unabridged

Indifference Definition & Meaning | Dictionary.com

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[ in-dif-er-uhns, -dif-ruhns ]

/ ɪnˈdɪf ər əns, -ˈdɪf rəns /

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See synonyms for indifference on Thesaurus. com

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lack of interest or concern: We were shocked by their indifference toward poverty.

unimportance; little or no concern: Whether or not to attend the party is a matter of indifference to him.

the quality or condition of being indifferent.

mediocre quality; mediocrity.

Baseball. the absence of effort by the defense to prevent a stolen base: For the second time this inning, a Brewer has taken second base on indifference.

OPPOSITES FOR indifference

1 eagerness, responsiveness.

See antonyms for indifference on Thesaurus.com



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Origin of indifference

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English, variant of indifferency, from Latin indifferentia; see origin at indifferent, -ence, -ency

synonym study for indifference

1. Indifference, unconcern, listlessness, apathy, insensibility all imply lack of feeling. Indifference denotes an absence of feeling or interest; unconcern, an absence of concern or solicitude, a calm or cool indifference in the face of what might be expected to cause uneasiness or apprehension; listlessness, an absence of inclination or interest, a languid indifference to what is going on about one; apathy, a profound intellectual and emotional indifference suggestive of faculties either naturally sluggish or dulled by emotional disturbance, mental illness, or prolonged sickness; insensibility, an absence of capacity for feeling or of susceptibility to emotional influences.

OTHER WORDS FROM indifference

su·per·in·dif·fer·ence, noun

Words nearby indifference

indiction, indictment, indie, Indienne, Indies, indifference, indifferency, indifferent, indifferentism, indigence, indigene

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

Words related to indifference

alienation, apathy, callousness, carelessness, disdain, disinterest, disregard, inattention, inertia, insensitivity, lack, negligence, nonchalance, aloofness, coldness, coolness, detachment, disinterestedness, dispassion, equity

How to use indifference in a sentence

  • Over the next 50 minutes, the character takes indifference to task with blistering monologues and soulful musical interludes.

    Arena Stage returns to live performances with an outdoor production of the rousing ‘Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak on It!’|Thomas Floyd|October 30, 2020|Washington Post

  • Early in October, Kavanaugh wrote a brief concurring opinion in Andino, the ballot witness case, which reads like a manifesto of indifference to whether voters are disenfranchised.

    If the Supreme Court decides the election, it will likely all come down to Brett Kavanaugh|Ian Millhiser|October 30, 2020|Vox

  • Designing devices that are more easily recycled and tackling the throw-away culture that treats the growing problem with indifference are both equally vital in slowing the oncoming tsunami.

    We’re Using Microbes to Clean Up Toxic Electronic Waste. Here’s How|Sebastien Farnaud|August 20, 2020|Singularity Hub 

  • With Spain’s tourism industry reeling and the economy on its knees, some voters are on edge and any perceived political indifference could hurt the weak minority government that relies on separatists to stay in power.

    Europe is at a turning point as COVID cases spike, and fragile governments feel the heat|Bernhard Warner|August 20, 2020|Fortune

  • Intended to rally outrage about the indifference of the federal government to the epidemic of that time, the words called forth three decades of LGBTQ activism that brought unimaginable change.

    ‘Silence = Death, VOTE’|Jeff Trammell and Charles Francis|August 8, 2020|Washington Blade

  • The result can be the indifference that appears so chilling in the Garner video.

    ‘I Can’t Breathe!’ ‘I Can’t Breathe!’ A Moral Indictment of Cop Culture|Michael Daly|December 4, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • While some may classify that inactivity as laziness or indifference, Brown suggests the contrary.

    Deepwater Horizon: Life Drowning in Oil|Samuel Fragoso|November 2, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • With “the heart of a son, a brother, a father,” he said, the pope demanded that these people move on from indifference to tears.

    Pope Francis vs. The Warmongers|Barbie Latza Nadeau|September 13, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • Her indifference astonished Clark, who has been a cop for 29 years.

    The Black Widow of Silicon Valley|Michael Daly|July 14, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • Two basic characteristics not related to memory are apathy and indifference or callousness.

    Does Donald Sterling Have Dementia? And Does That Make Him Any Less of a Racist?|Robert Silverman|May 23, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • A like indifference to the position of a picture, and of a letter, has been observed among backward races.

    Children's Ways|James Sully

  • Lady Victoria's earlier mood of colossal indifference had been dissipated by her son's return.

    Ancestors|Gertrude Atherton

  • Three hours ago you had never seen me, and now you swear my indifference will kill you.

    Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 60, No. 372, October 1846|Various

  • Baroudi accepted all these attentions with a magnificent indifference that had in it nothing of assumption.

    Bella Donna|Robert Hichens

  • Under the guise of apparent indifference his mind kept the Canadian under constant observation.

    Three More John Silence Stories|Algernon Blackwood

British Dictionary definitions for indifference


/ (ɪnˈdɪfrəns, -fərəns) /


the fact or state of being indifferent; lack of care or concern

lack of quality; mediocrity

lack of importance; insignificance

See principle of indifference

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

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Essay What is indifference?

  1. Works
  2. Grade 9 and OGE
  3. What is indifference?

Each of us experiences a huge number of feelings throughout our lives. They can be both good and bad. Many consider hatred to be the worst feeling. But no, the really terrible feeling is indifference.

Indifference is an indifferent, passive attitude towards surrounding and ongoing events. People capable of this feeling do a variety of things, they don't care about anything. And, unfortunately, these actions are often inhumane.

Indifferent people are alien to the feeling of pity, compassion, they are stingy with emotions. It is difficult for them to assess difficult situations. In addition, indifference borders on immorality.

This feeling drives people to loneliness and depression. They gradually realize that no one wants to communicate with them. They have no one to share their problems, dreams, desires with. Often such people fail to build a family. Everyone thinks they are selfish. In fact, they see their problem. The acceptance of loneliness is the understanding of indifference.

Nowadays, many prefer not to express their emotions. But still, they are more likely to recognize the problem and change their behavior. Indifference is a catalyst for the destruction of a person if there is no cordiality and generosity in it. It makes a person angry. Anyone who is indifferent can easily offend anyone. Probably, people experiencing this feeling were offended by someone. A person cannot just become like that. There is always a reason. And it’s good if in the lives of these people, those who are able to collapse and return interest will appear. After all, you can not pretend that you do not see other people's troubles and suffering. So life loses its meaning.

Indifference can be equated with a disease that most people have. And the reasons for its spread are the constant preoccupation with one's affairs, problems, a distrustful attitude towards everything that surrounds and the constant need for protection from cruel reality. For many, the easiest way to avoid bad emotions or unnecessary chores.

Everyone can at one time or another come across indifference. And when help is needed, few will come in difficult times.

We must not forget that someone's life often depends on the behavior of each of us, and help can be very useful to a person. Suppress indifference in yourself and then the world will become a much better place.

Option 2

In today's society, one can often meet people who are indifferent to someone else's misfortune or troubles, indifferent to what is happening in the world around them, who care only about their own lives, and they are not at all interested in other people's problems and difficulties. Such people do not even think about doing at least something to help or at least somehow support a person in need of support.

Such traits of human character as mercy and kindness are very important in our time. The pace of modern life is extremely accelerated, so we experience a lack of compassion and sensitivity. When there is someone next to a person who will provide support in a difficult situation, will not condemn, but will simply accept all the positive and negative sides of your character. A merciful person, despite the misconduct of another person, will certainly give a chance for correction.

It seems to me that human indifference is the highest cruelty in the world, which can only be. After all, it is she who turns him from a man into an animal that is simply accustomed to living alone and taking care only of himself. Indifferent people have no moral and social values. Such people are not familiar with such feelings as friendship, love, mercy and, of course, compassion. All these factors directly point to the moral decay of a person.

If we turn to world or Russian literature, we can see that the theme of indifference was touched upon by writers very often.

In the story "The Overcoat" by N.V. Gogol, the author showed readers the indifferent society in which the main character lived. It was the indifference of the people around the protagonist of the work of Bashmachkin Akaki Akakievich that led to his death.

In the story "Saw each other".

Learn more