i could care less

Guest   Mon Feb 25, 2008 9:38 am GMT
What does this mean? Is this a stupid persons way of saying 'I couldn't care less'?
Damian in Edinburgh   Mon Feb 25, 2008 11:46 am GMT
I can never fully understand why Americans use: "I could care less". Surely it means they don't care for whatever it is that's at issue, but they don't feel quite as indifferent or nonchalant as they could do.

"I couldn't care less!" sounds so much more cut and dried, so to speak.

I can't understand, either, why Americans say they "go to THE hospital" after an accident. To us that sounds as if they are going to one particular hospital. At the end of the day, I don't think they say "I'm going to THE bed", do they? At least I don't think they do. Or do they? Why the difference?
Guest   Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:36 pm GMT
I guess it's just one of those strange idioms, meaning more or less the same thing as "I don't care."
guest   Mon Feb 25, 2008 2:53 pm GMT
It should be "I couldn't care less" -- the form that I use. I am an American btw.

"I could care less" doesn't make much sense. Usually, one utters this sort of statement at the point where caring less is impossible or refused. Being able to 'care less' implies that you could take some more of the situation...

I'm sure "I could care less" started as "I couldn't care less" that got corrupted, where the "n't" became so unstressed as to be left out.

Similar to "I'm mistaken" (I am taken the wrong way, misunderstood) for "I'm mistaking" (I am making a mistake, I'm wrong)

"Going to THE hospital" vs. "Going to hospital" is minor in my opinion. Hair-splitting regionalism. However, I have heard some Ams. use: "I'm going to the bed" for "I'm going to bed"

I suppose "going to the hospital" sounds to you the same way as if someone said "I'm going to the school" to us, since we say "...going to school".

Perhaps it's a relic of a former time when there was only ONE hospital in any community here in America. In which case, it *would* be "I'm going to the hospital" and it stuck.
Jasper   Mon Feb 25, 2008 6:46 pm GMT
"I could care less" is a vulgarism; nonetheless, it's widely used by the careless. Personally, hearing "I could care less" is like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard.

"I'm going to the hospital" is, evidently, an Americanism. Being an American myself, it would sound odd to hear somebody say,"I'm going to hospital."
Damian in Edinburgh   Mon Feb 25, 2008 9:16 pm GMT
I have never, ever heard anyone say "I am going to the school" unless they are referring specifically to a certain school. "Are you not going to school today?" is the way it's always said here. Just as in "he was taken to hospital" or "I'm off to bed now", "we all went to church" but "we went to the theatre last night", while not actually indicating which theatre in particular. It's all a wee bit of a mish mash really - it's all custom, with no set rules in this regard.
Russconha   Mon Feb 25, 2008 11:47 pm GMT
Imho, I think 'I could care less' is ok. Maybe it's because the commonly used phrase is 'I couldn't care less' that it seems to sit uncomfortably with some people.

You can swap the verb for many others for perfectly legitimate sentences.

I could sleep less.
I could eat less.
I could talk less.
Guest   Mon Feb 25, 2008 11:59 pm GMT
I could care less = I care a bit, and it's better than nothing


Person 1: You don't donate much money to charity.
Person 2: At least I donate some which is better than nothing, I could care less, you know.
MrPedantic   Tue Feb 26, 2008 12:21 am GMT
I don't hear "I could care less" as "I care a bit, and it's better than nothing".

"I could care less" with that meaning would have a tentative fluctuating intonation ("I could care less, you know!"); whereas in an authentic "I could care less", the intonation is forceful and offhandedly contemptuous.

purist   Tue Feb 26, 2008 12:31 am GMT
Whenever someone says the corrupted version in my presence I endeavour to make haste and point out the error and lack of logic of said utterance.
Milton   Tue Feb 26, 2008 12:31 am GMT
I could care less! = Like I care!
(=I don't care at all!)

not is redundant in the ironic form
Guest   Tue Feb 26, 2008 1:11 am GMT
<<I could care less! = Like I care!
(=I don't care at all!)

not is redundant in the ironic form >>

When people say "I could care less", what they are really meaning is

"I couldN'T care less"

eg. Honey, I think that dress looks terrible on you.
Look, I couldn't care less--

Here, "I couldn't care less" means that I care so little, I am at the bottom of the CARE-bucket, and it is a physical impossibility for me to be able to care any more less than I already do.

When people respond to this type of scenario with--

"I could care less" --that doesn't make any sense. Okay, dearie, then care a little less for me, and when you can't care any lesser THEN tell me about it.
Guest   Tue Feb 26, 2008 8:30 pm GMT
''Jane and me went to the store'' does not make sense either, but
many people use it (instead of ''Jane & I went to the store'')
Uriel   Mon Mar 03, 2008 2:55 am GMT
"I could care less" is simply sarcasm. We do indulge from time to time, you know. We have lots of phrases that are seemingly contradictory, yet make sense when you realize that they are meant to be ironic. The classic "You don't say?" is one. So is the exclamation, "NO, she didn't!"

These are stock phrases where everyone knows that the tone and the delivery and the context convey the true meaning, while the literal meaning appears to be the opposite. It's part of the way we play with words. We're not robots, after all -- we can have a little fun sometimes!
Uriel   Mon Mar 03, 2008 3:01 am GMT
Other ironic sayings -- "Lovely" or "Wonderful" "Oh, great" or "Isn't that just dandy?" when confronted with bad news (said in the appropriate scathing tone). Also, "Isn't that just the icing on the cake/cherry on top?"