COULDN’T care less


A lasting pet peeve of mine is the misuse of the expression, “I couldn’t care less.” Far more often than not, this expression of extreme derision is misstated as, “I could care less.” People I consider as normally intelligent or better often contend with me on this issue. I tire of this fight, so I want to immortalize my stand here in the old blog.

The phrase “I could care less” is NOT an expression of derision. If you wish to say that you care as little as possible about something, then the phrase you need is, “I couldn’t care less.”

When you say that you could care less, all you are really stating is that you care some quantity greater than zero. At the moment you intend to express that you care not at all, you state that you care to an unknown degree–up to and including caring very much. Most infuriating to me is that people not only make this utterly dubious statement, but they most often lay a very heavy inflection on the word “could”.

The next time you really want to lay the acid on, I suggest you use the phrase “I could not care less.” You may simultaneously make your point and educate someone.


5 Responses to “COULDN’T care less”

  1. Gail Says:

    toby, i COULDN’T agree more! this is also a pet peeve of mine, along with “sherbert” (for sherbet) and “wal-lah” (for voila).
    so glad i found your blog. i’ve missed your jokes.

    happy christmas,

  2. jmac Says:

    coudn’t wouldn’t shouldn’t

  3. david Says:

    for the longest time, i couldn’t understand this. then, all of the sudden, i just did!

  4. mike Says:

    i care some quantity greater than zero about your pet peeves.

  5. Leigh Ann Says:

    Since it is Christmas time… how about:
    poinsettia or more popularly point-set-a???

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