Word Fact: I Couldn’t Care Less vs. I Could Care Less


When you want to colloquially express that you don’t care at all about something you might say “I couldn’t care less.” This phrase first popped up in British English at the turn of the 20th century and is still popular today. In the 1960s, a controversial American variant of this phase entered popular usage: “I could care less.” Many native English speakers, both in the UK and US, find this expression to be logically flawed. If you couldn’t care less, then you care so little about something that it would be impossible for you to care any less than you do. If you could care less, however, you are saying, literally, that it is possible for you to care less than you care now. Those who take issue with this believe this later variant says very little about your level of caring, and so eschew it.

Etymologists suggest that “I could care less” emerged as a sarcastic variant employing Yiddish humor. They point to the different intonations used in saying “I couldn’t care less” versus “I could care less.” The latter mirrors the intonation of the sarcastic Yiddish-English phrase “I should be so lucky!” where the verb is stressed.

The argument of logic falls apart when you consider the fact that both these phrases are idioms. In English, along with other languages, idioms are not required to follow logic, and to point out the lack of logic in one idiom and not all idioms is…illogical. Take the expression “head over heels,” which makes far less sense than the expression “heels over head” when you think about the physics of a somersault. It turns out “heels over head” entered English around 1400, over 250 years before “head over heels,” however, the “logical” version of this idiom has not been in popular usage since the late Victorian era.

The usage of “couldn’t care less” versus “could care less” is a very polarizing issue as you can see in British comedian David Mitchell’s rant, though both phrases are in popular usage. Because most modern English dictionaries define words and phrases using a descriptive approach, you’ll find both “couldn’t care less” and “could care less” in Dictionary.com. The lexicographers at Dictionary.com aim to record language as it is actually used, without judgment. That said, not everyone you encounter will be a lexicographer, so be aware that those in the camp of David Mitchell will cringe if you use “I could care less” in conversation.

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  1. Maymay -  March 8, 2016 - 3:03 pm

    Couldn’t care less means u don’t care, if you use I could care less, it mean there’s more of your care that you could give so how does that make sense

    • Horace -  April 19, 2016 - 11:29 am

      Way to miss the point completely.

      • julius -  May 8, 2016 - 9:18 am

        i know right? maybe maymay is yiddish

  2. Ben M -  February 9, 2016 - 2:04 pm

    Both are correct. Neither is literal. “I couldn’t care less” is hyperbole. “I could care less” is condescending sarcasm.

    “Hey, guess what, they’re making another Matrix sequel! What do you think of that?”

    “Hmmm… what do I think… well, I suppose I could care less…”

    Yes, everyone, you’re so brilliant for pointing out that “could care less” means that you must care some. Your analysis is shallow and you’ve missed the point entirely. Only someone who cared very little would actually state that they could care less. If cared a lot, or any meaningful amount at all, then noting that I could care less would be a pointless statement. It’s only meaningful if I already care so very little that I feel it noteworthy that I still might perhaps care even less.

    • M -  February 19, 2016 - 6:16 am

      I agree that since neither phrases are literal, rejecting “I could care less” altogether on the grounds of inaccuracy assumes these idioms are to be employed a single specific way. Like you’ve made plain, “I could care less” makes sense as a casually dismissive or sarcastic remark, but I think where people seem to take issue is the use of “I could care less” as an angry retort.

      For example, if your friend tried to get out of coming to a party you’d invited him to with some lame excuse, you might reply, “I couldn’t care less about your early appointment! You’re not flaking out on me this time! Come for a measly hour. I’ll see to it you’re in bed by ten, you killjoy.”

      In this case, you couldn’t get away with using “I could care less” because you’re trying to emphasize your frustration. If you did use “I could care less,” your angry tone would suggest not that you don’t care at all, but that contrarily, you do care more than you believe your friend thinks you do. You’d come off rather forcefully insisting your partial sympathy for your friend’s scheduling conflicts, which would contradict rather acutely the statements of outrage and thinly veiled scorn directly following.

      I must say, I view “I could care less” as a subtler use of rhetoric. Not merely a malapropism of the ignorant, when used sensibly, “I could care less” is probably the more nuanced and sophisticated of the two idioms. I happen not to be a frequent employer of colloquialism, but growing up in Canada, “I couldn’t care less” was the form I heard. I later noticed the “I could” version on American TV, and remember pondering which was correct. Even then I felt that choosing the former seemed too obvious somehow, and I came to the realization that both could be correct in their separate contexts.

      • Stephanie -  April 18, 2016 - 8:00 am

        No. People who say “I could care less” aren’t purposefully saying it wrong to make a point. They are misspeaking a common phrase, and it caught on and now people are trying to justify it as something purposeful. It’s like people who write “could of” instead of “could’ve” or who think “all intensive purposes” is a real phrase.

        • Dave Eastman -  April 29, 2016 - 6:24 am

          YES! YES! YES! Your comment is exactly correct. These people are simply looking for a justification for they ignorance of the language. Chalk one up for the dumbing down of our educational system. They come out of high school not knowing how to read or write or express themselves:

          I’m like… and she’s like.. Whatever!

        • Rose -  May 12, 2016 - 2:00 pm

          Isn’t the phrase “for all intents and purposes”.

    • richard -  April 18, 2016 - 1:16 pm

      The problem with ur argument is that “I could care less” isn’t sarcarstic enough to make the point so it just comes across as wrong rather than clever. imho

    • Billy biz -  May 11, 2016 - 11:27 pm

      I couldn’t not agree more with your comment

      • 0001000 111100 -  May 26, 2016 - 12:17 am

        Yes. That one made sense

  3. Fred Bloggs -  July 18, 2015 - 6:39 am

    When I was growing up in the 60s I heard the phrase “I could care less” put as a sarcastic question, “I could care less?” I haven’t seen anyone else mention this usage, but this is the only way it makes sense. Over time, the questioning intonation was dropped. Around the same time the sarcastic phrase, “Ask me if I care” was also used, as well as, I believe, “Ask me if I could care less”.

  4. John -  June 27, 2015 - 10:04 am

    The word is careless, not “care less”. And in the definition it has a “not” in the meaning, “not giving sufficient attention”. So couldn’t careless is a double negative.

    • esjay -  July 5, 2015 - 1:23 pm

      Oh dear, John. “Careless” and “care less” mean completely things. I fear that you have not quite grasped the point of this discussion.

    • Robert -  July 5, 2015 - 8:16 pm

      You are wrong. It is “care less”. They are describing the amount of care with the word less. Careless is a totally different thing altogether.

      • esjayen -  July 9, 2015 - 2:32 pm

        Quite so Robert. To say “I could care less” needs further explanation in order to convey the fact that you don’t care. It is like changing the last line of “Gone With The Wind” to “Frankly my dear, I GIVE a damn.” It makes no sense.

        • Shelly -  September 14, 2015 - 3:52 pm

          I could agree with you more!

          • Andy -  October 23, 2015 - 9:15 am

            Lol I see what you did there.

          • Casey Vlaanderen -  December 27, 2015 - 9:47 am

            There is not a comment more clever haha

          • richard -  April 18, 2016 - 1:18 pm

            haha. U win

    • Felicia -  September 17, 2015 - 4:00 am

      “Careless” and “care less” definitely have two different meanings and in this discussion the latter is correct!

    • propermodulation -  September 28, 2015 - 3:15 pm

      LOL John…I’m guessing you’re trolling. But in case you aren’t, neither “I could careless” and “I couldn’t careless” are correct grammatically and they make absolutely no sense considering “careless” is an adjective, not a verb.

    • J -  October 18, 2015 - 6:16 am

      You are completely wrong.

    • T.Doom -  October 20, 2015 - 4:21 pm

      not giving sufficient attention or thought to avoiding harm or errors.

      feel concern or interest; attach importance to something.

      to a smaller extent; not so much.

      careless ≠ care less

    • April -  October 30, 2015 - 3:07 am

      Come on John, go back to school.

      • A different John -  November 12, 2015 - 5:32 pm

        What good is sending him back to school going to do? He went to school for the first time and didn’t get it, and public education has gotten worse over time, not better.

        I used to hear and use “couldn’t care less” all the time in the 70′s and 80′s. I believe the first usage of “could care less” that I encountered was My Chemical Romance’s song, “Teenagers”. Anyone got an earlier popular reference? I want to find the first bastardization of this term… and show the moron who started it exactly how much less I could care.

        • Keith Walker -  November 29, 2015 - 1:26 am

          In the late 1950’s, a verbose variation on the term “I couldn’t care less” was spoken, “I suppose I could care less, but I don’t see how.” Words were dropped out over the next few years until “I could care less” was all that was left. Those too young to know the history of the saying likely cringe and think it is nonsense. Those who know its derivation mentally hear the unspoken words and accept its meaning without concern.

          • Oedipus -  January 24, 2016 - 5:31 am

            That’s ridiculous. That’s like saying the popular Theban saying of “I could bang my mom, if I didn’t know she was my mom.” changed over time to the popular West Virginian saying of “I could bang my mom.” They actually mean two very different things.

    • Jake -  January 30, 2016 - 8:40 am

      No, it isn’t careless, it’s care LESS. I could/couldn’t careless doesn’t make sense, at all. Why would anyone say, “I could/couldn’t careless”???? Lol. How in the WORLD did you come up with it being “careless”?

    • Kathy Bindon -  March 24, 2016 - 2:28 pm

      Ummm, no, these expressions do not use the word careless.

  5. Jay -  May 19, 2015 - 10:42 am

    I could care less…than I do right now but frankly I don’t give enough shits to try.

    • Russell -  June 27, 2015 - 7:42 pm

      I couldn’t care less because if I could care less I wouldn’t…..

    • Robert -  July 5, 2015 - 8:17 pm

      Which literally means that you care

  6. Dave -  May 9, 2015 - 4:37 pm

    To me, “COULDN’T care less” is correct… I side with the idea that if you could CARE less, then you care somewhat… Of course, I like the idea of the sarcasm of the latter, if it does add a comical bent to it… But maybe we Americans are too lazy to add the extra syllable and don’t coin the expression that “NO ONE or NOBODY could care less”, if that is the general truth, so I don’t know… A thought I’ve recently pondered, and that’s what brought me here… “Cheers!”

    • cheese -  May 12, 2015 - 11:57 am


    • Einstein -  May 14, 2015 - 8:17 pm

      I could care more

    • Kevin -  May 28, 2015 - 11:20 pm

      If you look up the definition of careless as a single word “I could careless” almost makes sense.. except for the fact that careless is an adjective.

    • Ben G -  July 3, 2015 - 4:50 am

      I always thought “I could care less” refers to your attention at the moment vs. your general interest in the matter.

      “Make no mistake, I’m discussing it right now, but that doesn’t mean I care about it.”

      You “care” enough in the moment to talk about it, but since it’s not important to you in general, it would be entirely possible for you to “care less” than you do right now.

    • Sushiphile -  November 20, 2015 - 7:30 pm

      I have always been led to believe that, in my mostly American upbringing and education (which went as far as a B.A., though not in English, from UCLA, which I hear is this year’s #2 public university), “I could care less” is a flowery or indirect way of saying “I don’t care.” Kind of like in the following conversation:

      Jesse: Hey, Chris, Justin Bieber has a concert coming up.
      Chris: Oh, I could care less.

      Chris could have also said, “I could give a damn.” to mean “I don’t care.”

      Same with “I can hardly wait.” I was taught that the phrase is equivalent to “I can’t wait.” Same goes for “I’m not keen on the idea” to mean “I don’t like the idea”. All are indirect ways of expressing an emotion, feeling, opinion, etc.

      Based on that, “I couldn’t care less” would be, what I think they call, a double negative, which according to my American teachers, is a grammatical no-no along the lines of “irregardless” and “not uncommon.”

      I am not saying that “couldn’t care less” is wrong and “could care less” is right. (Ok, maybe a little) But this is what they taught in the schools I attended.

      • Dan -  December 5, 2015 - 8:03 am

        A double negative would be “I couldn’t not care less” (could not not…), which means “I could care less”, or (to evade the controversial nature of the topic) “I care”.

        • Dan Hibiki -  May 26, 2016 - 12:20 am


  7. William Gastil -  May 6, 2015 - 12:37 am

    I grew up hearing this. It really is just people leaving off the negation off couldn’t. It isn’t used sarcastically, and it’s certainly not “Yiddish Humor”. I’m sure it started as an accident, but was common enough that people got used to it. There is no reason write “could care less” instead of “couldn’t care less” (or argue about it) unless you are trying to represent someone’s dialect.
    Also, if you hear or read “could give a damn” that’s probably the same thing.

    • Shane -  June 13, 2015 - 4:21 pm

      Spot on, William. I could agree more.

      • Mark -  April 6, 2016 - 10:10 am


  8. Sharon Kearney -  May 4, 2015 - 10:36 pm

    It’s really quite simple. Could care less is incorrect! Just like “Walla” for “Voila” and the many other manglings of the english language the people of the United States like to defend. Get it right people and stop making excuses

    • Grannyweatherwax -  May 10, 2015 - 6:06 am

      Exactly! It’s all because of those lazy ass murricans again! :)

    • Russell -  June 27, 2015 - 6:36 pm

      So should we change Walla Walla, Washington to Voila Voila, Washington??? Actually I don’t use either, Could care or Couldn’t care because I could give a rats ass but I don’t!!!

    • sheera -  September 20, 2015 - 5:21 pm

      “Voila” is a french word usually being used to show something extraordinary you did, “walla” is a word in Arabic and a very common slang in Hebrew usually being used when someone tells you something that is new to you. Therefore the word “walla” is not incorrect!

    • Sharon -  October 15, 2015 - 10:25 pm


      • Sharon -  October 15, 2015 - 10:28 pm

        My amen response is for Sharon Kearney!

  9. OFFICIAL -  March 13, 2015 - 6:05 pm

    This started as yet another attempt by North Americans to introduce one of their own childishly amusing terms into the English language. It is about as funny as saying “bad” instead of “good”, or “wicked” instead of “very good”. One must always allow the colonials to, in their ignorance, to play about with the “mother tongue”

    • Captain HighHorse -  April 14, 2015 - 10:39 pm

      You are quite the idiot. Go home and cry about your sad life, not about a continent across the Atlantic.

    • You -  April 17, 2015 - 7:31 am

      Okay, so you do realize that the British have so many slang terms for the male anatomy, right? But that’s not childish though, is it?

      • CrouchingWeasel -  November 19, 2015 - 5:29 am

        So what? It is literally THEIR language, Cletus. Don’t like that? Start using a different language, if you even remotely have the aptitude.

        • Astorian -  December 4, 2015 - 8:51 am

          It’s OUR language as well. We were British subjects when we first started using it and changing it over here. Dialects develop in language usage, it just happens. If you can’t handle that fact, I feel very sad for you.

          • Queen X -  May 14, 2016 - 1:16 am

            As our British subjects, you should respect your mother tongue.

    • Dan -  April 20, 2015 - 8:34 am

      You say it’s “couldn’t care less”? Well Americans could care less about what you have to say.

      • OFFICIAL -  August 11, 2015 - 12:16 pm

        Thank you Dan, for caring at all.

    • GrammarLove -  June 17, 2015 - 8:58 pm

      As an American who highly values proper grammar, I’d like to defend myself here. Get off of your pompous high horse and give us some credit. I’ve come across Australians, Brits, Canadians and Scots who butcher the English language as well. It is simply not fair to generalize an entire nation as ignorant. America is a “melting pot” of languages and cultures. With this myriad of dialects, there is bound to be a few slang terms or variants of words that may not seem “proper” to you. I find it quite interesting. However, if you do not live here in the U.S., I feel that you have no right to judge. Thank you. I’ll get down off my soap box now.

      • Andy -  December 9, 2015 - 3:25 am


      • Dave Eastman -  April 29, 2016 - 6:41 am

        Henry Higgins got it right:

        “By right she should be taken out and hung,
        For the cold-blooded murder of the English tongue.”

    • Eli -  July 17, 2015 - 8:39 pm

      I’m a North American. I’m offended by your arrogant remarks about me. I’d like to point out that every single person in my country that uses “bad” in place of “good” knows very well the meanings of both words, and is being deliberately sardonic. The fact that you couldn’t figure this out on your own says quite a bit about your own ignorance.
      With that noted, I have a question for you. What puts you in a position worthy of belittling me? How is your own slang more correct than mine? If you can’t answer this, then you are in no position to treat me like an inferior, and should apologize for acting like a pretentious xenophobe.

      • official -  July 27, 2015 - 10:00 am

        Good response Eli. I do, of course, realise that your deliberate “opposite” slang terms are an attempt to be sardonic, I just can’t see the point! I am playing Devil’s Advocate in order to prompt a response. Slang terms in England are usually colloquialisms, with one part of the country not even understanding what another part is talking about, whereas American slang seems to be generic. It’s almost as if the slang has become the official language of the country. I’m very sorry to hear that you were offended by my remarks. I do love many aspects of American culture, especially the music created my many of the black artistes, from Tamla-Motown through to Hip-Hop.

  10. Jacob Lewis -  February 26, 2015 - 7:36 am

    Thank you so much for clearing this up! As someone diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, I’ve always looked at idioms for their meaning. This helped me with most of them, by finding comparable situations. Take, for example, the phrase “Pulling the wool over your eyes.” It means to deceive, and if you were to pull a sheet (I assume that long ago, blankets were just referred to as “wool”) over your eyes, you wouldn’t be able to see. Similar to how someone would be keeping you from seeing the truth.

    The issues I’ve had were with phrases like “I could care less,” and “Head over heels.” I understood what people meant by those idioms, but was always irked by the backwardness of them. This finally helped me understand that it’s sometimes sarcasm or just do to people not using the phrase correctly and the incorrect form sticking.

  11. Robzilla -  December 21, 2014 - 9:22 am

    Slate.com did a pretty good write up on this… Part of which states the following:

    Evidence for the use of “could care less” goes back to 1955, with “couldn’t care less” appearing only about 10 years before that. But long before that the phrase “No one could care less than I” was in use. Think about how you might respond to such a phrase in a certain type of conversation. “I’ve never been so insulted in my life! How dare they imply such a thing! No one could care less for the trappings of fame than I!”

    “I could, darling. I could care less.”
    The rest of the comparison, “than you,” is left understood. Perhaps “I could care less” also carries a shadow of the original phrase and a hidden comparison. “I could care less … than anyone.”


  12. Kais -  November 16, 2014 - 1:15 am

    Both terms imply a lack of interest in the subject or topic. Further clarification on the responders ability to effectively communicate how little they care is required to justify both these statements.
    When “I couldn’t care less” is used, I find myself wondering why the responder is unable to disregard the statement or question and immediately change the subject. This would imply disinterest or discontent which implies the responder cares just a little, enough to change the topic. However, If the responder chooses to make the effort of stating he/she couldn’t care less, this will need to then qualified by the addition of “than stating I couldn’t care less. If the responder is in fact capable of changing a subject without responding to the previous statement or question, than responding with “I couldn’t care less” in any future conversation would be a lie, as the responder has been proven capable of caring less through the use of silence, quick topic changes or simple negative words such as no or never.
    Stating “I could care less” Is more likely to be truthful and is more likely a threat when the origin and meaning is further analysed.
    Caring is the basic motivator for all human beings, It inspires or presses us to act. If someone threatens to care less, they are actually saying “You are wasting my time and about to loose my favour, and respect” Considering the common financial difficulties of the lower-socio economic class, most people don’t have the luxury of having their time wasted by inane and non-lucrative ideas and propositions. Therefore being told by a responder “I could care less” is truthful, correct, and an indication that the conversation topic needs to change if you wish to retain positive relations with the responder.

    • CrouchingWeasel -  November 19, 2015 - 5:33 am

      Both terms do not imply a lack of interest in the topic at hand. I’d like to highly suggest that you brush up on the difference between the words COULD & COULDN’T.

  13. john -  November 7, 2014 - 10:54 pm

    “Could care less” has a more naturally flowing cadence than “couldn’t care less” that “n’t” is a pretty abrupt gutteral stop. Maybe it’s less about being logically inferior, and more about not grunting in the middle of a phrase. Besides I bet that the type of person who gets uptight over “could care less,” is the same type of person who tells people that their wine tastes well

    • Ken Westmoreland -  December 3, 2014 - 8:08 am

      Taking the negation out of ‘I couldn’t care less’ is like being bitten by a snake with no teeth or venom. ‘I couldn’t care less’ needs no reinforcement as a dismissal.

      An abrupt guttural stop? It sounds better with an extra syllable. ‘Wine tastes well’? Straw man alert – nobody, not even a pedant or prescriptivist says any such thing.

      • sat -  January 12, 2015 - 9:00 am

        not true-so many ppl think that if they use well instead of good when good is proper, they will sound educated and superior. Look at how myself (which should rarely be used except with the antecedent and I are being used improperly these days, as well as failure to use subject- verb agreement especially when a prepositional phrase precedes the verb. English grammar unfortunately, schools stopped teaching English grammar skills along with proper writing skills so now the overwhelming majority of Americans, including news anchors-CNN, big offender, top school graduates, writers, generals, commentators, politicians even Bill Maher, graduate of Cornell said have went!

    • gino -  December 12, 2014 - 3:07 am

      the apostrophe in N’T isn’t a glottal stop as in Hawai’i, but merely a typographic convention to indicate that a vowel has been dropped.

      maybe you heard ‘tastes well’, but what was actually said was ‘tastes swell’.

    • Grannyweatherwax -  May 10, 2015 - 6:07 am

      I don’t touch wine, I would just appreciate it if those who claim to speak English, would actually try and speak English, not a b*stardised American version!

    • Russell -  June 27, 2015 - 6:57 pm

      Well what??? You didn’t finish the sentence!!! Was it that their wine tastes well, like crap??? Or maybe the wine tastes well, quite good!!! Whatever!!! But you got to finish the sentence. You left us in well, limbo!!!

  14. DE Navarro -  October 15, 2014 - 10:01 am

    Although I use “I couldn’t care less” because it is logical, I have never had a problem with “I could care less.” In colloquialisms, what is not said is as much a part of the phrase or statement as what is said.

    To me, the phrase “I could care less” is dismissive in the sense that it conveys the ideas (the unspoken part): “I care very little about this issue you are bringing to me and I’ve even dignified it with this response, but I could care less and just totally ignore you and it, but I’ll give you the benefit of this response so you know that I care enough to tell you I don’t care about it, so let’s move on.”

    Have you ever considered that “I couldn’t care less” might actually be the more illogical statement, though, because by responding at all, you are saying that you care enough to make a response, and yet your response is I couldn’t care less when there is really room to care less about the issue if you are making a response to it.

    Yes, there are two sides to every coin.

    • You are 100% Right. -  October 24, 2014 - 11:31 am


    • ECS -  November 4, 2014 - 4:28 am

      I assure you nobody who says “I could care less” is laboring over ponderous volumes of forgotten Yiddish lore to come up with such a silly response. Let’s be intellectually honest for a moment, and admit it’s a simple misuse of the phrase.

      What excuses would you entertain for people who say things such as:

      It’s a doggy-dog world.
      mute (moot)
      egregious usage of the word literally
      should of
      conversate, irregardless, etc.
      you have another thing coming

      I’m no scholar of English grammar, and you may be able to pick out 20 errors in what I’ve written here today, but I hope they are more subtle than the aforementioned butcheries.

      • J -  August 26, 2015 - 12:23 pm

        Do you mean using “literally” incorrectly in place of “figuratively”? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using “literally” that way. Doing so is a figurative way of expressing severity, in my opinion.

      • Robert -  September 4, 2015 - 11:00 am

        Whenever anyone says “… let’s be honest…” check your wallet. It’s a rhetorical trick to make a questionable proposition appear to be more solid than it is.

        “I could care less” is an idiom, “doggy-dog world” is not. When someone says “I could care less,” virtually no one is confused as to what the speaker meant. If you said “I could care less,” to mean “I care to some extent,” no one would understand what you meant. Such usage would fail to communicate, and so would be an error.

        “Doggy-dog world” is not widely accepted use. When someone says it, people assume that the speaker said “dog-eat-dog world”. If doggy-dog world became sufficiently widely used, it might become acceptable English. I don’t personally use “I could care less”, but idioms don’t have to be logical.

        There’s also nothing wrong with “another thing coming”. The original idiom may have been “another think coming”, but “another thing coming” is perfectly logical. It says that you will get “another thing” than the thing you thought you were going to get.

        “If you think you’re going to steal my car, you’ve got another think coming!” It means that you had better think it over again. “If you think you’re going to steal my car, you’ve got another thing coming!” is subtly different. The first thing is “steal my car”, and it implies that the thing they actually get will be something different, and quite possibly rather unpleasant.

        • Dave Eastman -  April 29, 2016 - 7:03 am

          The point is: when someone says “I could care less.”, another person who cares about correct grammar immediately judges that person to be a lazy speaker who couldn’t care less about the accuracy of his/her communication. This is an insignificant example, but who knows what other monumental gaffes, leading to misunderstanding, are committed because of that carelessness?

    • cam -  November 22, 2014 - 11:39 am

      nice web page

    • Russell -  June 27, 2015 - 7:24 pm

      What I love is when someone from England tells us we don’t know how to speak English. Then they turn around and say something like, Ya ain’t got a fag on ya mate??? I got so pissed I forgot em’ in the bloody Pub!!! Now that’s English for you!!!

      • OFFICIAL -  July 16, 2015 - 4:09 pm

        In response to Russell, all the examples you have given are slang or colloquial terms. Every language in the world uses slang terms, and each area of every country has it’s own. The issue is not with such colloquialisms, but with a nation which bases it’s official language on the slang terms of another country. I fear that Americanese is based on the language taken from England by the Pilgrim Fathers and has been taken as formal English. It is not the fault of Americans that they have adopted this erroneous form of the language, but they must be big enough to admit, given a wider education, that it is, in many parts, incorrect. Obviously it is too late for them to change.

        • Dave Eastman -  April 29, 2016 - 7:07 am

          Henry Higgins got it right again:

          Oh, why can’t the English learn to
          set a good example to people whose
          English is painful to your ears?
          The Scotch and the Irish leave you close to tears.
          There even are places where English completely
          Well, in America, they haven’t used it for years!

    • Writerwhocaresmore -  September 6, 2015 - 9:39 pm

      Actually, there are three sides to every coin. As do most folks who are imprecise, you have forgotten that coins are cylinders, and they include a top, a bottom, and a side. My point is that all of us are arguing about a topic that has no right or wrong answer. The longer you argue, the less your chance of winning the argument. As in the movie War Games, the only way to win is not to play.

  15. Bob -  October 14, 2014 - 1:29 pm

    In his Word Crimes video, Weird Al says “I could care less” is incorrect. That’s good enough for me.

    • Madoka Kaname -  November 9, 2014 - 7:11 pm

      True. Youtubers know everything.

      • Tony -  November 17, 2014 - 6:38 pm

        You really don’t know Weird Al, do you? He was around decades before “Youtubers”.

        • Kanes -  December 24, 2014 - 10:13 am

          kids these days.

          • Kit Snicket -  March 12, 2015 - 9:11 pm

            No respect for their elders.

  16. Bel -  October 13, 2014 - 8:13 pm

    I didn’t think i would care about this caring less conversation but i find myself so intrigued with each persons response and now somehow i find myself caring way more then i expected.

    • lcoln -  October 14, 2014 - 1:19 pm

      Who cares or do
      you think we really care if we care less or couldn’t care less?

    • Could Of -  March 23, 2016 - 2:09 am

      more THAN I expected…

  17. Mary -  October 13, 2014 - 6:55 pm

    People say “could care less” when they mean “couldn’t care less.”
    It’s that simple.

    • Alaskana -  January 25, 2016 - 4:51 am

      I rarely hear the phrase nowadays, yet I am a literal person. So when someone says they could care less, I ask them ‘why don’t you’ (care less, that is)? In other words, go ahead and take it to the nth degree!

  18. Tim Rollins -  October 13, 2014 - 12:35 pm

    It’s “I couldn’t possibly care less than I do right now!” vs “I could care less than I do right now but I really don’t think I do.”

    • JD -  October 14, 2014 - 3:23 am

      I think that “I couldn’t care less” is a statement of ambivalence, whereas, “I could care less” captures other emotions or intentions ranging from sarcasm to mirth

      • AF -  December 5, 2014 - 1:02 am

        ‘I couldn’t care less’ is ambivalent? It states quite clearly that the person does not care at all, it would be impossible for them to have any level of caring. The other phrase doesn’t even make clear how much the person cares in the first place.

    • Varina -  November 4, 2014 - 12:13 am

      I’m with you, Tim. “I couldn’t care less” is a simple dismissive. “I could care less” implies the addition of a phrase such as “but I can’t be bothered to make the effort.”

  19. Heather -  October 12, 2014 - 11:54 am

    This seems to be a misunderstanding of how either is used today. “I couldn’t care less” is just used as an expression, not an idiom. It has meaning based on the correct use of language, which includes logic. When someone says “I could care less” today, they are not at all saying it sarcastically as described in the article or using Yiddish humor; thus, they are literally trying to say that they couldn’t care less, but are inadvertently using incorrect syntax.
    So, saying this in a similar fashion as the author did trying to erroneously discredit the “argument of logic”, the argument in this article falls apart when you consider that the time in history no longer exists in which this expression is used as an idiom or where the nonsensical “I could care less” is purposely used as a type of Yiddish sarcasm. So if you are trying to say that you care so little about something that your level of caring could not be any lower, the correct form is to say that you “couldn’t care less”.

    • RH -  January 20, 2015 - 1:55 am

      Agreed. It is not an idiom; it means exactly what it means. ‘Could care less’ is a simple misuse, similar in nature as to those someone else already mentioned. This entire article is grasping at straws (a legitimate idiom) to try and justify it. That being said, I couldn’t care less if people use it anyway.

    • Robert -  September 4, 2015 - 11:04 am

      Yes, it is an idiom. An idiom is “an expression with a meaning that cannot be guessed from the meanings of the individual words.” That perfectly describes “I could care less.”

  20. Andrew Yilmaz -  October 11, 2014 - 5:35 pm

    I couldn’t care less about which one I use honestly. Only in formal writing is the writer’s job to make everything 100% clear to the reader. Both phrases are colloquial to begin with, so you shouldn’t use them in a college essay or company report anyway, and as long as the audience understands what you’re saying, there’s no need to insist upon a distinction.

  21. gibroni -  October 9, 2014 - 12:21 pm

    I’m glad you wrote this blog. Like many others who have posted here, I tend to go by the “if I know what you meant, then it’s good enough for me” doctrine. However, I think it’s fun to discuss and analyze the wonderful complexities and intricacies of English, as long as the tone remains light.

    That being said, I think the logic behind “head over heels” deserves an additional perspective. I think the meaning is more aptly defined as head before heels, because “heels over head” describes a somersault worse than “head over heels,” if you accept the replacement of before for over. “Heels over head” reflects the position during a somersault roughly half of the time, as does “head over heels.” But when you consider the term “head before heels,” and over often is interchangeable with before when the issue is order, then “head over heels” perfectly describes someone tumbling into a somersault.

  22. Elainie -  October 8, 2014 - 4:14 pm

    Jeez move on and get over this! I learned this in second grade! Yeesh!

  23. TJ -  October 7, 2014 - 1:03 pm

    You guys have ALOT of time on your hands if you think of this subject so hard.

    • Colten -  October 11, 2014 - 8:51 pm

      It doesn’t really take that much time to think about something like this and write a blog post about it.

    • Sophia -  October 13, 2014 - 8:17 pm

      It’s “a lot” with a space, not “alot”. That’s another thing people tend to forget….

    • Polemicista -  December 3, 2014 - 8:14 am

      ‘A lot of / too much time on your hands’. What an incredibly stupid expression.

    • sat -  January 12, 2015 - 9:04 am

      2 words:a lot. forgot is polite, how about never learned

  24. poetic1 -  October 6, 2014 - 8:58 am

    In the grand scheme of things, does it really make much difference whether use of one of these idioms vs. the other is careless? The English language is full of idioms that make no sense if taken literally, yet we all understand their meaning.

    • GrammarLove -  June 17, 2015 - 9:09 pm


  25. Alex Exley -  October 5, 2014 - 11:55 am

    I don’t buy it. I’m pretty liberal in my thinking about language and its usage, but just because something is frequently misused does not mean it should be accepted as correct. “I could care less” literally means the opposite of what people who use it think it means. And it’s come into usage not because of some old Yiddish humor but because of plain old ignorance and lack of attention about what people are saying. It’s just like the misuse of the word “literally” which people frequently use to mean “figuratively”.

    What if someone actually could care less about something? I suppose they would have to amend their statement to say, “I could care less, literally.” Which is still problematic because “literally” now means “figuratively”, and “I could care less” expressed figuratively means “I couldn’t care less.” In effect, you can no longer express that you actually care less about something and mean it.

    • TJ -  October 7, 2014 - 1:06 pm

      The second part of your comment threw me off after ‘i could care less, literally’.

    • Jon -  October 10, 2014 - 7:47 pm

      Couldn’t agree more. People don’t say “could care less” because of a Yiddish variant, they say it because they misheard the correct expression and just started repeating it. That doesn’t make it right. The correct analogy to “head over heels” isn’t “heels over head,” but instead “not head over heels.” In one you’re omitting a “not,” in the other you’re adding it. Who would argue that “head over heels” means the same thing as “not head over heels”? Dictionary.com, apparently.

      • Chris -  October 15, 2014 - 7:20 am

        Many, or just myself, use “I could care less” as stated in the article – with a tone of sarcasm that leaves out the “but I’d have to really try” that makes it clear it is intended to mean my level of caring is very low for what ever was being discussed. It is used correctly, more so then a factual statement of “I couldn’t care less”, which is in fact a lie. You could care less or you wouldn’t have commented at all. As for others, well, there are many that do not understand sarcasm and can easily confuse the two essentially similar phrases. How it is understood does make it right though, that is the point of language. If you stated “not head over heels” with a sarcastic tone, such as in “You are definitely not head over heels in love with person X” for instance, you would be conveying the same meaning as stating they were head over heels with person X. It is just not a phrase that has been used often enough that the sarcasm is universally understood without other indicators.

        • Stephen D. -  November 2, 2014 - 10:03 am

          Thank you for this very clear and correct clarification.
          It’s sarcasm, people!

          • Polemicista -  December 3, 2014 - 8:15 am

            The sarcasm isn’t need it – some things need no further reinforcement. ‘I couldn’t care less’ is already a contemptuous dismissal.

          • Polemicista -  December 3, 2014 - 8:23 am

            Just before someone rebukes me for spelling, I meant to write ‘The sarcasm isn’t needed.’

          • Polemicista -  December 3, 2014 - 8:27 am


            The sarcasm isn’t needed – some things need no further reinforcement. ‘I couldn’t care less’ is already a contemptuous dismissal.

        • Trillzilla -  January 16, 2015 - 9:43 pm

          Since when does stating that you don’t care about something mean that you care!? I’ve personally never heard anyone start a convo with “I couldn’t care less that…”, I’ve only ever heard it use either in response to something, as a reaction or talking about a 3rd party. Examples:

          Person 1: Player got traded from team 1 to team 2
          Person 2: I couldn’t care less


          Person 1 (to Person): Person 3 couldn’t care less about that trade

          How is either person demonstrating any level of “care” by using I couldn’t care less?

    • OFFICIAL -  July 16, 2015 - 4:24 pm

      You are quite correct Alex. In order to convey what is implied, it is important to use the correct grammar (if you know it). To purposely use incorrect grammar is foolish.

  26. William Gorman -  October 3, 2014 - 7:38 pm

    For the first eighteen years of my life I lived in areas with large Jewish populations, and I did not hear anyone use the variant “I could care less.” Therefore I disagree with those etymologists who relate the origins of the variant to Yiddish-English.

    Growing up in the northeastern part of the U.S., I was quite familiar with the expression “I couldn’t care less.” It wasn’t until I moved temporarily to rural North Carolina, in the 60′s, that I first heard the variant “I could care less.” And it was used only by less-educated people. So I believe the variant originated because of lack of awareness or understanding on the part of a segment of the population.

    • Shahab uddin -  October 11, 2014 - 8:22 pm

      Mr. William Gorman, Although the correct pharse be better decided by lexicograpers but i am convince with your opinion that who are less educated and do not comprehend often make this kind of mistakes and person like me whose mother tongue is different can not overcome this problem easily.as we will continually make this mistake by assuming that this man is using correct word as this is his native language.

      • Kit Snicket -  March 12, 2015 - 9:15 pm

        *phrase, and use some commas, please.

      • Russell -  June 27, 2015 - 7:07 pm

        Wait what???

  27. Frank -  October 2, 2014 - 7:18 am

    Well, as I see it, “I could care less.” means that there is care to spare and therefore that a residual of care obtains, whereas “I couldn’t care less” suggests that one has reached the limit of uncaring.

    • ammon -  October 2, 2014 - 4:32 pm


  28. Stephen Vaughan -  October 2, 2014 - 5:05 am

    I could care less about reading all of your comments so as not to cause repetition…but I shan’t. The sarcasm perspective makes sense but you must follow the idiom with a few more words so as to instate the condescension. C’est à dire, I could care less but I’ll reserve that exertion of effort for something more important. It sounds like it should be the retort of a second person stated in a group after a first person has just expressed that he couldn’t care less.
    Could the “head over heels” be implying that a flip so fierce has taken place that the victim has gone over twice? I do care.

  29. Gibdo -  September 30, 2014 - 6:42 pm

    The answer to the question is surely in the article.

    This phrase first popped up in British English at the turn of the 20th century and is still popular today. In the 1960s, a controversial American variant of this phase entered popular usage: “I could care less.”

    The answer is clearly “I couldn’t care less”. Anyone who says otherwise is either stupid or arrogant enough not to be able to admit that they’re wrong.

    • Stephen D. -  November 2, 2014 - 10:07 am

      Anyone who who doesn’t understand that “I could care less” is a perfectly correct, sarcastic comment is stupid, arrogant AND wrong.

    • Stephen D. -  November 2, 2014 - 10:20 am

      Anyone who doesn’t understand that “I could care less” is a perfectly correct sarcastic comment is stupid, arrogant AND wrong.

      • Stephen D. -  November 2, 2014 - 10:22 am

        Sorry for the double post – didn’t show up the first time.

        • Polemicista -  December 3, 2014 - 8:18 am

          The sarcasm undermines it, that’s the point. As a British politician once said of his opponent, it’s like being savaged by a dead sheep.

          ‘Anyone who says otherwise is either stupid or arrogant enough not to be able to admit that they’re wrong.’

          Your choice of words says more about you than the people you’re trying to attack.

          • GrammarLove -  June 17, 2015 - 9:16 pm

            Sarcasm is MEANT to undermine, conveying a snarkiness and therefore reinforcing how little the subject matters to them. It’s a matter of opinion now. It is obviously not proper English, but that is the point. That’s how the sarcasm comes into play.

  30. Bob -  September 30, 2014 - 6:32 pm

    I think the most likely origin of “I could care less” is that it is an abbreviated, sarcastic, form of “AS IF I could care less.” This seems simpler than any of the other ideas put forth.

    • Kat -  October 5, 2014 - 3:31 pm

      I on’t know if that’s true, but it certainly seems to be a valid, less wordy answer than what was given above.

  31. A Religious Fellow -  September 30, 2014 - 2:32 pm

    I think when someone says “I could care less” it means they don’t care at all.

    • Shellheart -  October 8, 2014 - 11:28 am

      Gee, you think?

  32. jordan(dan[not dirty])Jensen -  September 30, 2014 - 1:30 pm

    its I Could Care Less

    • danny -  October 1, 2014 - 2:04 am

      I do not care! short and to the point.

    • shar -  October 7, 2014 - 8:38 pm

      …The fact that you used “its” instead of “it’s” in your sentence even more so proves your ignorance of grammar and language in general.

      It most definitely is not “I could care less”…did you not read the article?

      I don’t mean to be such a bully, but the ignorance is just so annoyingly evident that I just had to say something.

      • shar -  October 7, 2014 - 8:40 pm

        …then again, of course it depends on how you end your sentence.

        “I could care less, but I simply have no more care to give.”

        Pretty much saying, you couldn’t care less.

  33. Shady Character -  September 29, 2014 - 10:20 am

    I thought I was the only person cringing when people say “I could care less” when they clearly meant they couldn’t care less. I watch Mike and Mike on ESPN a lot and Mike Golic uses the “could care less” expression sometimes, and I’m sure, in Mike’s defense he couldn’t care less how annoyed I get when he does it.

    • amused -  October 17, 2014 - 10:03 am

      Speaking of sports and idioms, the one which always has amused me is when a basketball announcer declares, “He didn’t even leave his feet!” He means that the player didn’t jump high enough to get his feet off of the floor, but it would be quite painful for him to have actually “left” his feet!

  34. gregmysl -  September 28, 2014 - 11:32 pm

    It puzzles me… Is this “I couldn’t care” more correct to use than “I couldn’t care less” Why does “less” have to be in?

    • Stephe -  October 2, 2014 - 5:12 am

      “I couldn’t care” states your inability to care and that’s not the question; it’s your choosing not to care that is at hand.

  35. Zoey -  September 28, 2014 - 10:34 am

    Both are right but, I prefer, “I could care less” as, the phrase ” I couldn’t care less is like an oxymoron when you first read it and not put any thought into it.

    ~ Zoe ~

    • Sean -  September 30, 2014 - 8:06 pm

      Actually, “I could care less” means that you could care less than you already do. Meaning that you actually do care a little.

      If you are trying to say that you don’t care at all, you would say, “I couldn’t care less” because it states that you already don’t care at all, therefore it is impossible to care less.

      They both are saying different things. They are both grammatically correct, but they are definitely not interchangeable.

      • Hero -  October 4, 2014 - 5:59 pm

        I think “I could care less” means more of “Sure, I could care less about this. However, I don’t want to care at all, so I reserve the right to use what’s left of my care to care about something else.”

      • Robert -  September 4, 2015 - 11:09 am

        No, “I could care less” in fact does *not* mean “I care, at least a little.” It *appears* as if it does, but it in fact does not. That’s how idioms work.

  36. jymbro -  September 27, 2014 - 9:31 am

    When I hear someone say “I could care less”, meaning, they “couldn’t care less”, I always reply, “I couldn’t”!!!

    • C C Ryder -  October 1, 2014 - 11:26 am

      Along the same line, jymbro, I sometimes ask the user, “How much?”.

    • Julinda -  October 14, 2014 - 12:51 pm

      Amen, jymbro!

  37. Morgan Cusick -  September 25, 2014 - 6:21 pm

    i could care less

    • Adrienne Gardner -  September 28, 2014 - 9:30 am

      It should be I couldn’t care less as in I could NOT care less because what you’re saying is I could not care any less than I’m caring now, which is ZILCH!

      • George -  September 30, 2014 - 3:58 pm

        Is it “ZILCH” or “NADA” or “ZERO”?
        Meh,..i couldn’t care less.


  38. Scia -  September 25, 2014 - 3:26 pm

    I heard one possible reason that ‘could care less’ came around is because ‘couldn’t care’ just has so many consonants in a row that it’s somewhat difficult to pronounce. Granted, I don’t have much clue as to why ‘head over heels’ would have happened

    • George -  September 30, 2014 - 4:02 pm

      Maybe we should lengthen that one, and make it “i’m head over heels over head” about,…whatever?


      P.S. I left this one “hanging” so you could respond to my comment with the response that i KNOW you want to use,..LOL
      Like a pin-setter in bowling, i set ‘em up,..the bowler (you), knocks ‘em down.
      Don’t miss this opportunity, and i’ll remember to give you another one later, if you’re a good little “bowler.”

    • mayim -  February 17, 2015 - 6:08 pm

      both may be for phono-articulatory reasons. the combination of consonants in ”couldn’t care” is difficult to pronounce and probably rare in english. i can’t really think of anywhere that we have “dntk” as a combo.

      the same i suppose is possible for “head over heels;” it’s likely easier to go from the the more open alveolar consonant /d / in “head” to the posterior / o / in “over” than from the more closed alveolar / s / in “heels.”

      it’s good food for thought, at any rate. changes in vernacular language often have reasons behind them beyond simple misuse. our language has changed in all sorts of crazy ways for all kinds of reasons.

      i always get amused when prescriptivists get their panties in a twist over things like this. it’s not like you’re speaking chaucerian english. language changes, that’s just the way humans are. the changes are just less fluid now because our writing systems are more widespread and things get set in stone.

    • OFFICIAL -  July 16, 2015 - 4:44 pm

      It’s possible Scia. given that a great many Americans do have a genuine problem with pronunciation. For example; ‘Meer’ instead of ‘Mirror’: ‘Squirl’ instead of ‘Squirrel’: ‘Terr’ instead of ‘Terror’: ‘Horr’ instead of ‘Horror’ etc. These do not seem to be colloquialisms, but nationwide mispronunciations. This is not meant to be a nasty criticism, but merely an observation.

  39. mamacato -  September 25, 2014 - 11:14 am

    …and I thought people spewing racist comments on youtube were nutjobs!

    • George -  September 30, 2014 - 4:04 pm

      “People” spew racism on the internet?!
      You’ve just GOT TO BE kidding.

      OUCH!,..i interobanged by head on that one,..TWICE!!!


    • George -  September 30, 2014 - 4:08 pm

      “People” spew racism on the internet?!

      OUCH!,..i interrobanged my head on that one,..TWICE!


      • George -  September 30, 2014 - 4:09 pm

        Why did that post twice?

        Why did that post twice?


        (see what i did there? :-P)

        • Captain Quirk -  October 6, 2014 - 4:10 pm

          –”Why did that post twice?”

          I couldn’t care less! Bwahahahha! :-D

  40. James -  September 25, 2014 - 11:08 am

    I could care less about this topic, but it’s just not that important to care any less than I already do.

    • Mystery to all -  October 8, 2014 - 1:01 pm

      Huh? lost ya there. explanation, please.

  41. Levette -  September 25, 2014 - 10:04 am

    Could suggests a possibility and couldn’t suggests that there is no possibility. Does it really matter? I use both phrases… I say, “I could care less” when I could care less. I also say “I couldn’t care less” when I couldn’t care less. This just seems petty to me… language itself is made up anyway. Meh.

    • jake from statefarm -  September 26, 2014 - 1:40 pm

      i agree, english is just messed up bro.

      jake from statefarm

      • George -  September 30, 2014 - 4:10 pm

        You sound hideous!


      • blahblah -  October 3, 2014 - 6:34 am

        what are you wearing, ‘jake from state farm’ ?
        ah.. nm.. I couldn’t care less..

  42. agkcrbs -  September 25, 2014 - 5:46 am

    Dictionary.com well understands that pure descriptivism is difficult to find, and impossible in dictionaries, since even the act of language description entails some amount of prescription. You may describe something in more variations (the “descriptive approach with prescriptive elements” admitted to in the linked essay), and you may be less annoyed with disagreement, but regardless, you cannot commit a concept to form or sound to an audience without expecting that form or sound to remain understandable and locally definitive, or without assigning phonetic or semantic validity to your descriptions. No datum in this lexicon is comprehensible at all, except to the extent that we accept its prescribed value.

    I find it tiring to see wordists, who would be among the better qualified to helpfully settle meaning and usage disputes and provide optimally valid prescriptions, hoist the false flag of descriptivism while snorting derogation and dogma (“Judgment… grammar sticklers… personal preference!” “All idioms are equally illogical!”) at the many language users (including most visitors to this site) who intuitively find instructive worth in solid descriptions. Is the circuitous sense of superiority from the ideological branding worth a potential decrease in traffic?

  43. David -  September 24, 2014 - 11:18 pm

    I’ve always thought of it in the literal sense. Like saying that the thing was bad, yet honestly. Possible to care left. But still implies that the thing in being referred to is terrible, that that’s the only worse point of reference they could think of. By saying it’s not the extreme hyperbole it’s supposed to give more credibility to your judgement.
    Like one star reviews that say it could have been worse, or saying that something wasn’t completely stupid while still implying it was really dumb. A lot depends on tone though. And I do think that lots of people use it to mean couldn’t care less, but I think a lot of people have been using it in the more literal sense, that’s how I would view it.

    Aside: I have a similar idea with the whole literally thing, I think you could use the word “literally” in a figurative sense. Like hyperboles that really want people to believe them. Isn’t the whole point of metaphor that it presents ideas as facts while implying it’s only a comparison. But, then things get really weird, and I doubt people are often using it this way.

  44. T. Harvey -  September 22, 2014 - 4:25 pm

    The writer of the article has used ‘summersault’ instead of the usual ‘somersault’, but the origin is an old French word, sombresault, from L. supra, ‘over’. It is not an improvement to respell it phonetically as ‘summer’, which seems an undesirable dumbing down to me.

    • T. Harvey -  September 22, 2014 - 4:33 pm

      And please don’t say, “The lexicographers at Dictionary.com aim to record language as it is actually used, without judgment, rather than how some grammar sticklers might personally prefer it to be used.” That road leads to ‘cos, thru and proberly, not to mention all the horrors of textmsg-speak. Don’t dictionaries have a greater duty to language and history than merely to ‘go with’ every popular modern laziness?

      • Steph -  September 23, 2014 - 11:55 am

        I believe it is the duty of dictionaries to record both modern and historical words and phrases. To me, language is always evolving. Think of how we spoke a hundred years ago versus two or three hundred years ago. I agree that our modern language sounds less intelligent and does not exactly sound pleasant to my ear but it gets information from one person to another. Isn’t that the main point of language? And aren’t dictionaries responsible for helping us understand language?

        • Cornelius -  September 25, 2014 - 11:36 am

          When dictionaries just record things willy-nilly according to usage, they become catalogs rather than dictionaries.

          Yes, dictionaries are responsible for helping us understand language, this is precisely why they should tell people what usage is proper or improper. If one wonders which is the proper way to use an idiom, one should be able to find out by consulting a dictionary. The problem is this one seems to wish to make itself useless in this regard by essentially saying “Some people say it this way, others that, it really doesn’t matter.”

          I have to wonder what issue this particular “dictionary” will give up on next. Perhaps the spelling of homophones?

          “There, their, they’re, since so many people use them interchangeably, we’ll just say this doesn’t matter either.”

          • ubutu -  September 29, 2014 - 2:49 pm


          • T. Harvey -  October 5, 2014 - 6:56 am

            If only etymology were taught in the English curriculum, (as Latin no longer is), much of the reckless defacing of our language would be avoided. A language spread throughout the globe inevitably spawns variants, but we live in sloppy, anything-goes times! I suggest dictionaries should adopt an accepted standard, not be swayed by every tweet and text. Language is art, and rules help us create more beautiful structures in all art forms. We can be perfectly liberal without being laissez-faire, but only if we understand the difference.

          • Russell -  June 27, 2015 - 7:38 pm

            Right on!!!

  45. Cornelius -  September 19, 2014 - 11:53 am

    “. . . most modern English dictionaries define words and phrases using a descriptive approach. . .”

    This explains some things I’ve found on this site. I will have to check, but I certainly hope that the “most” bit is inaccurate. Dictionaries are supposed to be things in which one can find the true meanings of words. Dictionaries are supposed to “hold the line” on usage, and point out when a particular usage is incorrect. Otherwise, what good are they?

    I just looked up the word “ain’t” on this site to try to determine how accurate the above quoted statement is. Ain’t, at least, is said to be “nonstandard.” which seems prescriptive (as opposed to descriptive) to me, as its use is fairly common.

    I am aware that the English language is constantly evolving, and realize this evolution can’t be stopped, nor, probably, should it. I do find it a bit distressing, however, that most of this evolution seems to be driven by those who are the least equipped to do so; before one breaks the rules, one should at least know what they are.

  46. Tara -  September 19, 2014 - 6:48 am

    You know what drives me crazy??? no one says “disappear” any more.

    They all say….. “went missing.”

    “Went missing” is, at best, some sort of southern cracker hill billy slang,{Im guessing] and while being a harmless colloquial phrase Its not proper English. Should we care??? no, until “went missing” becomes the term of choice in every media venue I encounter from TV to radio to print to computer…it used on the news by reporters all the time who, you would think, would be urged to use official standard proper English.

    Its seems that “disappear” has “disappeared”

    • William -  September 20, 2014 - 6:23 pm

      So are you saying the word “Disappear” went missing? :P

      • Madison -  September 25, 2014 - 3:40 pm


      • George -  September 30, 2014 - 4:12 pm

        If we could make “went missing” disappear, then we would really be accomplishing something.


    • Alan -  September 23, 2014 - 4:08 pm

      Tara, when one question mark is always sufficient, then why do you insist on using three of them in a row after a question? Do you think it makes your question any more important or emphatic than those which others ask. I would suggest you study your punctuation skills before writing in a forum, especially one such one where most people would notice it.

      This drives me crazy, also.

      • George -  September 30, 2014 - 4:14 pm

        NEVER tell people on the internet what makes you crazy, ‘cuz we’re sure to use it and watch you repeatedly interrobang your head off stuff, and laugh.


    • Steve -  September 24, 2014 - 1:00 pm

      Why do you have to pick on people from the south? Are you a high and mighty northerner?

      Florida Cracker.

    • VinceP1974 -  September 25, 2014 - 9:50 am

      When someone “Disappears” they’re still visible to whoever happens to be around them. So I think “went missing” is fine.

      • Mary -  October 13, 2014 - 6:53 pm

        Did you mean to whomever?

    • raj -  September 25, 2014 - 11:48 am

      As someone who grew up, and still resides, in rural Georgia, I can make this correction: “Went missing” is NOT proper southern cracker hill billy slang. Around here we say “gone missing”.

    • OFFICIAL -  July 16, 2015 - 4:57 pm

      I think ‘disappeared’ implies that something has completely vanished form view, while ‘went missing’ suggests that something can not be found where it should be.

    • Robert -  September 4, 2015 - 11:14 am

      Perhaps “disappeared” has come to have implications of foul play, so people are avoiding it if they want to avoid that implication.

  47. DreamyDream -  September 18, 2014 - 4:31 pm

    I always imagined ‘I could care less’ to mean: I COULD care less but, I care so little already that I can’t even be bothered to care less…… That’s how little I care. It’s the meaner version of the two in my estimation.

    • DreamyDream -  September 18, 2014 - 4:46 pm

      And let me add: this brings to mind a common scene in the movies in which one guy is about to punch out another guy and suddenly he stops himself and says, ‘you’re not worth it!’ As in, he COULD care so little about the person to the point where he’s willing to cause them harm but meh, he cares so little already why put in the extra effort… Ambivalence can be more devastating than passionate hatred hence: ‘no publicity is bad publicity’

      • Jez -  September 26, 2014 - 5:54 pm

        “…he COULD care so little about the person to the point where he’s willing to cause them harm but meh, he cares so little already why put in the extra effort…”

        Yes, scenes like this are common in movies, but there is still a little bit of care being shown! If he did not care AT ALL about that person, he would not have got angry and wanted to punch them in the first place. The person would barely exist to him. If he did become violent, it is only because he would have perceived the person to be no more than an irritating object and silenced them in the same way that a fly is swatted or an alarm clock is turned off. By not caring at all, he has no empathy for the person and no conscience regarding his own actions. Horror and psychological thriller movies can feature this type of cold and detached psychopath who shows utter indifference to their victims.

        “Ambivalence can be more devastating than passionate hatred hence: ‘no publicity is bad publicity’.”

        Perhaps you’re confusing ambivalence with indifference. Ambivalence means uncertainty. Indifference means no concern. But I think I understand what you’re saying, that it’s often better for business to provoke a response – even a negative one – than to not provoke any response at all.

    • Jim -  September 25, 2014 - 8:55 am

      As a Brit, I know I’m biased, but our way is obviously correct…

      “I could not care less” means “I care ZERO” – you can not care less-than-zero. But if you say that you *could* care less, then you must care a bit – you might even care a huge amount – which is a completely different thing to say.

      I think that the phrase “I could care less” probably took root in the US through the large number of people whose first language was not English. The glottal stop of the “N’T” in “couldn’t” is barely pronounced, so it’s easy for non-English speakers to miss – it’s foolish to attempt to ‘reverse-engineer’ a reason why “could care less” makes logical sense, because it doesn’t.

      (It’s similar to “head-over-heels” – that makes no logical sense either, because that is the normal way that people walk ! – so we just have to accept that the phrase actually means the opposite of what we infer from it.)

      • Jez -  September 26, 2014 - 2:12 pm

        “I could not care less” means “I care ZERO”.

        I could not agree more, Jim!

      • Mitchell -  October 1, 2014 - 6:36 am

        Right on Jim. Thank you from a proud American.

      • Mark -  October 1, 2014 - 5:47 pm

        Jim, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head (idiom intended). All of these attempts to explain the use of “could care less” are stretches at best. I’ve seen the rise of this expression in the last two or three decades and I’m convinced it’s pure laziness. We don’t need to even consider how non-native English speakers hear the language. Even native English speakers grow careless with pronunciation leaving whole syllables out at times. Your explanation of the difficulty of pronouncing the glottal stop of “N’T” is undoubtedly correct and doesn’t presume that people actually stopped to think about why they were saying “could care less” as opposed to “couldn’t care less” which they undoubtedly didn’t.

        • Captain Quirk -  October 6, 2014 - 4:19 pm

          Agree (wholeheartedly) with Jim, Jez, Mitchel and Mark. :-)

          • Captain Quirk -  October 6, 2014 - 4:20 pm

            Oops! That’s Mitchell with two ells! Sorry!

        • Stephen D. -  November 2, 2014 - 10:36 am

          Sorry, but you are simply wrong.
          It has nothing to do with laziness or ignorance.
          It is a purposefully sarcastic re-rendering of the original expression.
          Or was originally.
          When the phrase first became popular, it was usually stated with a very sarcastic tone.
          Now it has become simply habitual for many people (but no less correct for that).
          Those arguing otherwise are either ignorant of this or unable to understand the emotional subtext of the idiom.
          Or are just pedants.
          Most likely the latter.

          • Polemicista -  December 3, 2014 - 8:25 am

            ‘It is a purposefully sarcastic re-rendering of the original expression.’

            No, just pretentious.

        • gino -  December 12, 2014 - 3:17 am

          there is no glottal stop.

      • Casey Vlaanderen -  December 27, 2015 - 10:12 am

        Have you always been a pompous ass?

    • Jez -  September 26, 2014 - 2:38 pm

      “…I care so little already…”
      “That’s how little I care.”

      This means you still care, even though it’s very little.
      NO CARE AT ALL is meaner than very little care.

    • Virginia Hart -  September 30, 2014 - 3:44 pm

      You are right, “Dreamy Dream.” When we said “I could care less,” in the 1950s and 1960s, we always ended with…..”but I don’t know how.”


    • Sean -  September 30, 2014 - 8:12 pm

      Well, in the literal sense it means you care a little about the issue. “I couldn’t care less” means that you don’t care at all.

  48. Amy -  September 18, 2014 - 10:42 am

    How do you know the way there

    • L'Nick -  September 26, 2014 - 12:44 pm

      right tho

    • Positive -  September 29, 2014 - 7:25 am

      u ugly

      • Dave Mason -  October 3, 2014 - 1:26 pm

        How about doing something “behind my back”? Isn’t that the same as doing it in front of my back?


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