Grammar Tips & Articles »

Distrustful vs. Mistrustful

This article gives an insight about the subtle difference between the words distrustful and mistrustful. While these are considered synonyms of each other, there is a very slight difference in the meaning and usage of the two. Let us understand the origin of the words so that we can understand the difference clearly.


2:01 min read
8,700 Views
  Ramya Shankar  —  Grammar Tips
Font size:

Origin of the words

Distrustful

Distrustful is an adjective of the word distrust, which is the opposite of trust and simply means absence of trust.

The word first originated in 1505-15 and is in the same lines as some other words like disappoint, dissatisfaction, dispassionate, dishonest and other feelings.

The prefix dis means not, reverse, undo, negate

Mistrustful

Mistrustful comes from mistrust and was first used in 1350–1400. This is the natural antonym of trust just like few other words – misunderstanding, mishandling, miscalculate, mispronounce and many more.

The prefix mis means bad, mistaken or wrong(ly)

Initially, the word mistrustful was used as the opposite. Later on, the word distrust was introduced and these two words are now used interchangeably.

Now, coming to the difference

Mistrustful is used when the person does not trust someone based on their own intuition/assumption. It means being doubtful about a person’s reliability. If we go by the prefix, mistrust would mean ‘wrong to trust’ someone.

Distrustful vs. Mistrustful

·        I want to give her a benefit of doubt, but her behaviour makes me mistrust her.

·        It has been so long since he talked to me, so when he called me today, I was mistrustful of his intentions.

·        If you are too mistrustful of your employees, you will never be happy with whatever they do.

Distrustful is often used when not trusting someone is supported by some previous experience or facts. When you know someone is being dishonest, you would distrust them. Simply put, distrustful is complete lack of trust on someone (prefix dis).

·        I used to share all my feelings with him, but he turned out to be distrustful and made a mockery of my feelings in front of everyone.

·        Politicians are very distrustful. We vote for them but they don’t live up to their promises.

·        This company is very distrustful with their services, they never complete given projects on time.

 

Here is the gist – you can use mistrustful and distrustful interchangeably on most occasions, however if you know why you don’t want to trust a person – use distrust, and if there is no definite fact but you still don’t want to trust a person – use mistrust!


Rate this article:

Have a discussion about this article with the community:

0 Comments

    Citation

    Use the citation below to add this article to your bibliography:

    Style:MLAChicagoAPA

    "Distrustful vs. Mistrustful." Grammar.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 26 May 2024. <https://www.grammar.com/distrustful_vs._mistrustful>.

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Check your text and writing for style, spelling and grammar problems everywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Check your text and writing for style, spelling and grammar problems everywhere on the web!

    Browse Grammar.com

    Free Writing Tool:

    Instant
    Grammar Checker

    Improve your grammar, vocabulary, and writing -- and it's FREE!


    Quiz

    Are you a grammar master?

    »
    Identify the sentence with correct use of the gerund as the object of the preposition:
    A She avoids speaking in public.
    B They are good at playing the guitar.
    C He is not capable of understanding the situation.
    D I am interested in reading books.

    Improve your writing now:

    Download Grammar eBooks

    It’s now more important than ever to develop a powerful writing style. After all, most communication takes place in reports, emails, and instant messages.