could care less
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- by deliberate irony, or
- by erroneous hyponegation, perhaps influenced by forms such as “as if I could care less”, “no one could care less”, and “to know little (or nothing) and care less”.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /kəd kɛə ˈlɛs/
- (General American) IPA(key): /kəd kɛ(ə)ɹ ˈlɛs/, /-ke(ə)ɹ-/
Audio (GA) (file)
- (US, sometimes proscribed) To not care at all; to have no concern or interest; to be apathetic.
- 1995 October 10, Thomas McGann, witness, Trademark Counterfeiting: Hearing before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, One Hundred Fourth Congress, First Session on S. 1136: A Bill to Control and Prevent Commercial Counterfeiting, and for Other Purposes […] (Serial No. J-104-49), Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, published 1997, OCLC 1097533781, page 33:
- We do work [...] to develop some strength and testing standards so that the industry can be assured that safe products are being produced. The person who is doing a knockoff could care less about that, and so they will just produce the product with virtually no field or laboratory testing and ship it out.
- 1999 June 23, Christopher Shays, Subcommittee Chairman, Combating Terrorism: Role of the National Guard Response Teams: Hearing before the Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs, and International Relations of the Committee on Government Reform, House of Representatives, One Hundred Sixth Congress, First Session […] (Serial No. 106-32), Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, OCLC 46357624, page 64:
- As someone who lives 30 miles away as the crow flies [...] from New York City, I could care less that New York City or New York State has a sense of jurisdiction. I would want to know whoever is most capable would be able to step in without any jurisdictional battle.
- 2003, Donna Hill, If I Could (Dafina Books), New York, N.Y.: Kensington Publishing, →ISBN, page 58:
- Maybe it wasn't only time to move away from a job that was killing her spirit, but from people who could care less about her as a person, who saw her only as the good girl from next door, the one who would never do anything to upset anyone, who totally underestimated her.
- Some consider this expression a malapropism because the literal meaning of this version is the opposite of the intended meaning.
- Others consider it acceptable because it is widespread and because omission of -n't is an instance of Jespersen’s Cycle, a linguistic process attested elsewhere in English and in other languages.
to not care at all — see couldn't care less
- ^ Laurence R[obert] Horn (2009) , “Hypernegation, Hyponegation, and Parole Violations”, in Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, volume 35, issue 1, Berkeley, Calif.: Berkeley Linguistics Society, DOI:10.3765/bls.v35i1.3628, ISSN 0363-2946, OCLC 1101342195, archived from the original on 17 June 2019, page 416.
- ^ Paul Brians (2003) Common Errors in English Usage, Wilsonville, Or.: William, James & Co., →ISBN, page 49.
- ^ Arika Okrent (14 April 2014) , “Lexicon Valley: In Defense of I Could Care Less”, in Slate, New York, N.Y.: The Slate Group, ISSN 1090-6584, OCLC 610473650, archived from the original on 7 February 2020.