I Couldn't Care Less

by presl
(Beijing, China)

Hello! Diana,

Could you tell me why the phrase "I couldn't care less" means "I do not care at all"?

I really could not figure it out. Contrary to how other people interpreted this, my understanding of "I couldn't care less" is totally different, I think it means "I care a lot."

This is how I got this impression,

Here, the term "less" is used as an adverb, which means "to a smaller degree", right? Okay, then I interpret "I couldn't care less" as "I couldn't care to a smaller degree". To put "I couldn't care to a smaller degree" in other words, it is equivalent to "I could care a large/ huge degree", so I think it means - "I care a lot".

But, according to the definition in my dictionary and a lot of related discussions on the internet, the meaning of "I couldn't care less" is "I do not care at all". Could you tell me why?? How do you interpret this phrase as "I do not care at all"? Could you make this phrase clear for me? Thank you very much!
Hi Presl, this one seems tricky and I can see why you might interpret this expression the why that you did. I will try to make it clear to you.

First, your dictionary is correct.

I couldn't care less = I don't care at all

Think about it this way. Imagine that you are looking at your level of caring and it is on a scale of 1 to 10. One is the lowest amount of caring and ten is the most you can care about something.

Imagine someone asks you if you care that your boss got fired (had to leave his position). Imagine that you HATED your boss. So you do not care at all that he got fired.

Basically, it is impossible for you to care less because you already care the least amount possible. That is what I couldn't care less means. That you already care so little, that you can not possibly care any less.

Physically speaking; if you do not have any money, it isn't possible for you to have less money...because you don't have any.

Another expression that extends this one is, I couldn’t care less, even if I tried. Even if you wanted to care less, it is impossible because you already care the least amount possible.

Make sense now? I hope that helps you understand the meaning. :)

Great question Presl!
Have a great afternoon.

PS: I bought a new office chair (as I was using a dining room chair before) and it is much more comfortable and I think it will be much better for my back when I am working. Let's hope that it helps my back recuperate. :)

Comments for I Couldn't Care Less

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Apr 26, 2009
by: presl

Thank you very much for help, Diana!

See you later!

Apr 25, 2009
by: presl

Wait, wait, Diana, I think maybe I get what you said!

I think this one helps me a lot:

?Physically speaking; if you do not have any money, it isn't possible for you to have less money...because you don't have any.?

So did you want to tell me that if I do not care something at all, it is impossible for me to care less (that is to say, to care a smaller degree) ? because I do not care at all! ???

Am I getting this one correctly this time?

Exactly!!! You got it Presl!

(P.S. Do not place yourself in front of the computer all day long. Try to do some exercises for your back, or you put a cushion behind your back when working.

And try to look at the outside the things, especially those green plants, through your window at regular intervals, that would be helpful for your eyes, since I guess that you have been spending a lot of time working with the computer.

As I said before, as long as you have got your health, nothing else matters! Even if you could achieve anything you want with your effort, so what? ? if you lose your health. Right?

I hope I can see a happy and healthy Diana at this lovely place every day! :-D )

Thanks for the advice Presl! I am going to take it as well!

You will be happy to hear that I have bought a new office chair that is much more comfortable and promotes excellent posture. I also go for an hour walk in the morning and in the afternoon. It is a great way to get out, move and relax.

I'm glad to say that my back is getting better...slowly. I think just taking it easy, moving and good posture is the key. I am eager to get my test results back to so know what the problem is officially.

Looking forward to your next question (you ask wonderful questions!).

Always a pleasure!


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