Neutral vs. Indifferent — What's the Difference?
By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on July 27, 2023
"Neutral" refers to having no preference or bias, simply lacking an opinion. "Indifferent" means a lack of interest or concern about something, suggesting disengagement or disinterest.
Difference Between Neutral and Indifferent
Table of Contents
Neutral refers to a state of balance or impartiality, often in a context where opposing sides or views are present. Indifferent, on the other hand, signifies a lack of interest or concern about something, suggesting apathy rather than a balanced position.
Neutral is an important term in decision-making and conflict resolution, signifying that a party doesn't favor any side. Conversely, being indifferent suggests disengagement or even a lack of awareness about the matter at hand without necessarily implying an equal distance from all perspectives.
Neutral often conveys a conscious, deliberate stance where one actively strives to maintain impartiality or balance. On the other hand, indifference can stem from a lack of motivation, engagement, or even knowledge about the situation or subject, thereby displaying an uncaring attitude.
Neutral might indicate a substance's pH level or a particle's electrical charge, which doesn't interact or react. Indifferent, however, is less commonly used in scientific contexts and typically retains its colloquial sense of lacking interest or concern.
In language and communication, a neutral tone can denote objectivity, unbiasedness, or lack of emotional content. An indifferent tone, however, often carries negative connotations, suggesting disinterest, disengagement, or even disrespect.
Neutral often refers to a state of non-partisanship, balance, or non-bias. It denotes a position of impartiality or non-interference.
Indifferent often implies a lack of interest, concern, or emotional investment. It suggests a state of apathy or disinterest.
Context of Usage
Frequently used in the context of disputes, disagreements, or situations requiring impartiality (e.g., "neutral party," "neutral ground").
Frequently used in the context of emotional responses, attitudes, or personal preferences (e.g., "She was indifferent to the criticism," "He is indifferent to chocolate or vanilla").
Being neutral generally doesn't have a positive or negative connotation. It implies a state of balance or fairness.
Being indifferent can often be perceived negatively, as it might suggest apathy, lack of caring, or insensitivity.
"In the dispute between the two parties, Switzerland remained neutral."
"He was indifferent towards the choice of movie for the night."
Impartial, unbiased, nonpartisan, unprejudiced.
Apathetic, unconcerned, uninterested, dispassionate.
Compare with Definitions
Not siding with or supporting either of two opposing sides, especially in a conflict or dispute.
In the heated argument between her friends, she decided to stay neutral and not take sides.
Lacking interest, concern, or sympathy.
Despite the desperate pleas for help, he remained indifferent to their plight.
Not aligned with, supporting, or favoring either side in a war, dispute, or contest.
Neither too great nor too little.
A couple of indifferent hills to climb.
A conductor or wire that is grounded or earthed.
Always ensure the neutral wire is properly connected to prevent electrical shock.
Having no preference.
I am indifferent between the two plans.
Neutral colors like back or white
Having no particular interest or concern; apathetic.
A person who is indifferent to the sufferings of others.
Of or relating to a solution or compound that is neither acidic nor alkaline.
Marked by no especial liking or dislike or preference for one thing over another.
I am indifferent about which book you would give them.
She was indifferent to their acceptance or rejection of her invitation.
Lacking distinguishing quality or characteristics.
A neutral personality that made no impression whatever.
(obsolete) Not different, matching.
Characterized by or displaying affirmation or acceptance or certainty etc.
Having no particular preference; not mattering one way or the other.
When asked if she preferred coffee or tea, she simply said she was indifferent.
Having no strongly marked or positive characteristics or features.
The room had a neutral color scheme, with beige walls and white furniture.
Of a mediocre or poor quality; not very good.
The play received mixed reviews, with several critics calling it indifferent.
Belonging to neither side in a controversy.
On neutral ground.
Having no marked feeling for or against.
She remained indifferent toward their proposal.
Belonging to neither kind; not one thing or the other.
Characterized by a lack of partiality; unbiased.
An indifferent judge.
Of or relating to a particle, an object, or a system that has neither positive nor negative electric charge.
Being neither too much nor too little; moderate.
"Specialist rectifiers ... raised brandies of indifferent strength to the desired strength by further distillations" (L.M. Cullen).
(Linguistics) Pronounced with the tongue in a middle position, neither high nor low, as the a in around.
Being neither good nor bad; mediocre
An indifferent performance.
Not supporting or favoring either side in a war, dispute, or contest.
(mechanics) Being in the state of neutral equilibrium.
Having a positive electric charge.
Protons are positive.
Not mattering one way or the other; unimportant; immaterial.
It's indifferent which outfit you choose.
Not active or involved; neutral
An indifferent chemical in a reaction.
Of or relating to a compound that does not ionize in solution.
(Biology) Undifferentiated, as cells or tissue.
Of or relating to a particle, object, or system that has a net electric charge of zero.
Free from bias or prejudice; impartial; unbiased; disinterested.
In choice of committees for ripening business for the counsel, it is better to choose indifferent persons than to make an indifferency by putting in those that are strong on both sides.
Of or indicating a color, such as gray, black, or white, that lacks hue; achromatic.
To a moderate degree; passably; tolerably.
A nation nonaligned with either side in a war.
Marked by a lack of interest.
The universe is neither hostile nor friendly; it is simply indifferent
A citizen of such a nation.
Not influenced by or involving personal feelings; impartial.
As a judge, it's essential to remain indifferent and base decisions solely on facts.
One who takes no side in a controversy.
"I am by disposition one of life's neutrals, a human Switzerland" (John Gregory Dunne)
Ambivalent; unconcerned; uninterested, apathetic.
He was indifferent to the proposal, since it didn’t affect him, either way.
A neutral hue.
Indicating or reflecting a lack of concern or care.
She responded with an indifferent shrug.
A position in which a set of gears is disengaged so that power cannot be transmitted.
Mediocre (usually used negatively in modern usage).
The long distance and the indifferent roads made the journey impossible.
The performance of Blue Jays has been indifferent this season.
A member of a confederacy of Iroquoian-speaking Native American peoples formerly inhabiting the northern shore of Lake Erie. The Neutral were destroyed by the Iroquois in the mid-1600s.
(dated) Unbiased, impartial, judging fairly.
(politics) Not taking sides in a conflict such as war; nonaligned.
Not making a difference; without significance or importance.
Even if one appliance consumes an indifferent amount of energy when left on stand-by overnight, together they can represent 10% of the electricity demand of a household.
Favouring neither the supporting nor opposing viewpoint of a topic of debate; unbiased.
A person who is indifferent or apathetic.
Neither positive nor negative.
(obsolete) To some extent, in some degree (intermediate between very and not at all); moderately, tolerably, fairly.
The face of the Moon appearing to me to be full of indifferent high mountains.
Neither beneficial nor harmful.
(obsolete) Without distinction or preference for some over others.
(biology) Having no sex; neuter.
Not making a difference; having no influence or preponderating weight; involving no preference, concern, or attention; of no account; without significance or importance.
Dangers are to me indifferent.
Everything in the world is indifferent but sin.
Having no obvious colour; gray
Neither particularly good, not very bad; of a middle state or quality; passable; mediocre.
The staterooms are in indifferent order.
(physics) Neither positive nor negative; possessing no charge or equivalent positive and negative charge such that there is no imbalance.
Not inclined to one side, party, or choice more than to another; neutral; impartial.
He is indifferent in his choice to sleep or die.
(chemistry) Having a pH of or near 7, neither acidic nor alkaline.
Feeling no interest, anxiety, or care, respecting anything; unconcerned; inattentive; apathetic; heedless; as, to be indifferent to the welfare of one's family.
It was a law of Solon, that any person who, in the civil commotions of the republic, remained neuter, or an indifferent spectator of the contending parties, should be condemned to perpetual banishment.
A nonaligned state, or a member of such a state.
Showing no care or concern in attitude or action.
He is indifferent to the sufferings of others.
A person who takes no side in a dispute.
(usually followed by `to') Unwilling or refusing to pay heed.
An individual or entity serving as an arbitrator or adjudicator.
(often followed by `to') Lacking importance; not mattering one way or the other.
Whether you choose to do it or not is a matter that is quite immaterial (or indifferent).
What others think is altogether indifferent to him.
A neutral hue.
Fairly poor to not very good.
He has indifferent qualifications for the job.
The position of a set of gears in which power cannot be transmitted to the drive mechanism.
Having only a limited ability to react chemically; not active.
An indifferent chemical in a reaction.
An electrical terminal or conductor which has zero or close to zero voltage with respect to the ground.
Characterized by a lack of partiality.
A properly indifferent jury.
Not engaged on either side; not taking part with or assisting either of two or more contending parties; neuter; indifferent.
The heart can not possibly remain neutral, but constantly takes part one way or the other.
Neither good nor bad.
An indifferent performance.
Neither good nor bad; of medium quality; middling; not decided or pronounced.
Some things good, and some things ill, do seem, And neutral some, in her fantastic eye. (Sir J. Davies)
In biology, not specialized or particularly suited for a specific function or habitat.
The plant is indifferent to light levels, able to grow in both shade and direct sunlight.
Having neither acid nor basic properties; unable to turn red litmus blue or blue litmus red; - said of certain salts or other compounds. Contrasted with acid, and alkaline.
A person or a nation that takes no part in a contest between others; one who is neutral.
The neutral, as far as commerce extends, becomes a party in the war.
One who does not side with any party in a war or dispute.
Neither moral nor immoral; neither good nor evil, right nor wrong.
Having no personal preference.
A neutral observer.
Having only a limited ability to react chemically; not active.
Having a pH of 7; neither acidic nor alkaline.
Pure water is considered neutral because it has a pH of 7.
In gear systems like an automobile, a state where no gears are engaged, and power is not transmitted.
He put the car in neutral and pushed it out of the driveway.
Does indifferent mean neutral?
Indifferent often means neutral in the sense that someone does not have a strong feeling one way or the other about something. They neither love nor hate it, approve nor disapprove.
Does neutral mean negative?
Neutral does not mean negative. It typically refers to a state of being unbiased, impartial, or not taking sides.
What feelings are neutral?
Neutral feelings are neither positive nor negative, such as feeling calm or simply being okay. They aren't marked by happiness, sadness, anger, or any other strong emotion.
What is the difference of indifferent?
The term "indifferent" can have different connotations based on context. However, it generally refers to a lack of interest, concern, or sympathy. It implies detachment or disinterest in the outcome of a situation.
What actions are indifferent?
Indifferent actions are those performed without care, interest, or concern. For example, if someone shrugs when asked about their preference for a meal, that's an indifferent action.
What are indifferent feelings?
Indifferent feelings are emotions that are neither positive nor negative. They are usually characterized by a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern for something.
What does neutral personality mean?
A neutral personality refers to a person who tends not to express strong emotions or opinions. They often avoid taking sides in conflicts and maintain a balanced perspective.
What does neutral minded mean?
Being neutral-minded means not taking sides in a conflict or argument. It indicates a fair, unbiased approach to thinking or decision-making.
What are some examples of indifferent?
Examples of being indifferent may include not having a preference between two types of food, not caring about the outcome of a sports game, or not having strong feelings about a political issue.
What language is neutral?
Esperanto, a constructed international auxiliary language, is often considered neutral because it doesn't belong to any particular country or ethnic group.
Are neutrals calming?
Neutral colors, because of their lack of intensity and saturation, are often perceived as calming. They provide a sense of relaxation and tranquility.
What is the example of neutral attitude?
An example of a neutral attitude is a juror in a court case listening to both sides of the argument without forming a judgment until all evidence has been presented.
What does indifferent mean in psychology?
In psychology, indifference refers to a state of apathy or lack of interest in things that typically would inspire a response or emotion.
Which things are neutral in nature?
In nature, things that don't have or express strong characteristics or properties can be considered neutral. For example, in the context of electrical charge, neutrons are neutral because they have no charge.
Is water a neutral?
In terms of pH, pure water is neutral, with a pH of 7. It is neither acidic nor basic.
What is the synonym of indifferent?
A synonym for indifferent could be "apathetic," signifying a lack of interest or concern.
What is an indifferent person?
An indifferent person is someone who does not care one way or the other about certain things. They may not feel strongly about anything in particular, and they might not be easily moved or swayed by emotional situations.
What is the nearest meaning of neutral?
The nearest meaning of neutral is being unbiased, not taking sides, or lacking distinctive features or characteristics.
Is indifferent the opposite of love?
Indifference, characterized by a lack of interest or concern, can be considered the opposite of love, which involves deep affection and care.
Is being indifferent negative?
Being indifferent is often perceived as negative because it may suggest a lack of care, concern, or engagement. However, it can also be neutral when someone genuinely has no preference or stake in a situation.
What does not neutral mean?
"Not neutral" indicates bias or preference towards a particular side or perspective in a discussion, debate, or situation.
Is being indifferent a mood?
Indifference could be described as a mood if it's a temporary state of not caring or feeling unconcerned. However, if it's a lasting trait, it would be considered more of a personality characteristic.
What is a synonym for neutral minded?
A synonym for neutral-minded could be "impartial" or "unbiased."
Is neutral a positive emotion?
Neutral is not typically considered a positive emotion but rather a state of being without strong positive or negative feelings.
What is neutral in literature?
In literature, neutral can refer to language or narration that does not express bias, emotion, or personal perspectives. It can also refer to characters who do not take sides in conflicts or events.
What is neutral English?
Neutral English refers to a form of English that is free from regional characteristics or dialects. It is often used in international communication to avoid misunderstanding.
What is the opposite of neutrals?
In terms of color, the opposite of neutrals (like beige, ivory, taupe, black, gray, and white) would be vibrant or highly saturated colors. In a broader sense, the opposite of neutral could be biased or partisan.
What is an example of neutral?
An example of neutral is Switzerland's stance during World Wars I and II; the country did not take sides and maintained a policy of armed neutrality.
What is indifferent love?
Indifferent love refers to a state of affection where one doesn't feel strongly or passionately towards their partner. It is characterized by apathy or a lack of deep emotional connection.
What is the opposite of indifferent?
The opposite of indifferent would be "concerned," "interested," or "passionate," signifying a strong interest or emotional investment in something.
What is an example of indifferent?
An example of being indifferent might be a person who doesn't care whether they spend their weekend at home or go out with friends. Either option is fine with them, and they don't have a strong preference.
What values are neutral?
Neutral values are ones that do not favor any particular side or position. For example, fairness and impartiality are considered neutral values as they do not inherently support one side over another.
What type of word is neutral?
"Neutral" is an adjective. It is used to describe something that does not have or express any strong features, feelings, opinions, or characteristics.
Which accent is neutral?
The term "neutral accent" often refers to an accent that is not easily identifiable as being specific to a certain region or group. In English, for example, General American English or Received Pronunciation in the UK are often considered "neutral."
What is indifferent behavior?
Indifferent behavior is characterized by a lack of interest or concern. It can manifest as a lack of reaction to events or situations that typically elicit responses.
Does neutral mean boring?
Neutral doesn't inherently mean boring. While neutral colors or ideas might be less eye-catching or provocative than more intense ones, they can still be engaging and sophisticated, depending on the context.
What is neutrals theme?
A neutrals theme often refers to a design or aesthetic approach that uses neutral colors or elements. This creates a balanced, calm, and harmonious look.
What are the 4 neutrals?
The term "4 neutrals" is not clearly defined. It might refer to neutral colors (black, white, gray, and brown) or other contexts where four neutral elements are discussed.
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Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.