What is the difference between the adjectives

  • abnegado
  • desinteresado
  • y altruista

The latter obviously is connected to altruism, the first to deny and the seconds ha interesting in it. But how are they used?


Abnegación: Sacrificio que alguien hace de su voluntad, de sus afectos o de sus intereses, generalmente por motivos religiosos o por altruismo.

  • Mainly religious related or against his own safety.

Desinterés: Desapego y desprendimiento de todo provecho personal, próximo o remoto.

  • It is not related to anything, just you are not interested in something.

Altruismo: Diligencia en procurar el bien ajeno aun a costa del propio

Honestly, the most common one is "desinterés".

  • Do you mean none of these fits for selfless/unselfish? How'd one say He selflessly served us then?
    – embert
    Apr 15 '15 at 11:26
  • I would say Desinterés is selfless or unselfish.
    – Jose Palma
    Apr 15 '15 at 11:27
  • "selfless" could mean a variety of things. Apr 15 '15 at 13:17
  • 1
    Desinterés and desinteresado is not the same. I think there's a problem with this response.
    – Bardo
    Apr 16 '15 at 12:19
  • Desinterés is a noun and desinteresado is the adjective, or at least is what I think, can you tell me the noun of desinteresado?, honestly I'm native speaker and can't think about other word.
    – Jose Palma
    Apr 16 '15 at 12:25

"Interest" in Spanish doesn't carry quite the same overtones as it does in English. I'm going to call your attention to the dictionary definition of the English word "disinterested" (not "uninterested")


Note that the principal meaning has to do with "unbiased" or "free from personal gain". The second meaning is more like "uninterested", which is listed as a synonym. Also, note the comment on the tangled history of "disinterested" and "uninterested". The words didn't always mean what they mean today.

Back to Spanish.

"Desinteresado" correlates almost completely with the meaning of "disinterested" as "unbiased" or "free from personal gain". A Spanish speaker won't think you are saying "uninterested".

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