I Couldn't Care Less

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Also: I could care less

Meaning of Idiom 'I Couldn't Care Less'

I couldn't care less means I don't care at all; I am completely indifferent. 1,2,3

Usage

The two variations of this idiom cause much confusion. The version "I could care less" is used with equal frequency but, given the intended meaning, is grammatically nonsensical. To say I could care less would seem to mean that one actually does care, making it an antonym of the original idiom.

The correct phrase is "I could not care less" which is intended to convey complete indifference or disinterest. However, idioms do not always make sense grammatically and both versions are common enough to be considered variants.

Examples:

"Listen, I couldn't care less if Sarah mentioned me. She showed her true colors to me months ago."

"I couldn't care less what critics say about movies. I like to form my own opinions."

Origin

This idiom originated in the UK and has been used since around 1940. Could began to be substituted for couldn't around 1960 and today both are used at about the same rate. 2 Most likely, the variation occurred for no other reason than "I could care less" being easier to say.

Sources
1. Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.
2. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
3. Brenner, Gail Abel. Webster's New World American Idioms Handbook. Wiley, 2003.

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