I Could Care Less – Usage & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

English is full of common phrases and their sometimes perplexing twists and turns. In today’s installment, we’re tackling couldn’t care less and its mischievous sibling could care less. Sit tight while I break down the differences between these two common expressions and explain how to use either.

Couldn’t Care Less vs. Could Care Less

I Could Care Less Usage Meaning

The phrase I couldn’t care less makes logical sense because it means you care so little about something that it’s impossible for you to care any less. You’ve hit the bottom of the bucket of your cares.

But I could care less, which seems to suggest that you have some care left to lose, has also found its way into our everyday language. Despite its illogical formation, it means the same thing as I couldn’t care less, but usually when doused in a heavy serving of sarcasm. English is full of similarly illogical phrases that add color to the language.

When I was little, my grandmother would always correct me when I said I could care less. She’d look at me with a grin and say, “That means you do care, even just a little.”

Let’s Break Down I Could Care Less

By literal definition, I could care less implies that a person can care even less than they currently do about something. So, it should mean that you do care at least a little. But idioms and literal meanings don’t always share the same boat.

I Could Care Less vs I Could Not Care Less Ngram
I could care less and I could not care less usage trend.

In common usage, especially in American English, I could care less has become an accepted informal way to express complete indifference, mostly due to people’s sarcastic undertone when they say it.

So, to sum it up, both sayings mean the same thing, but you need to lace I could care less with layers of sarcasm and maybe even an eye roll.

Synonyms for Couldn’t Care Less

If you’re looking for ways to diversify how you express your utter indifference, here are a few synonyms you can use.

  • Unconcerned
  • Indifferent
  • Nonchalant
  • Disinterested
  • Apathetic

I Could Care Less Examples in a Sentence

Here, I’ll show you how I could care less is used in sentences where the intended meaning is usually the same as couldn’t care less.

  • My doctor says I shouldn’t eat so much chocolate, but I could care less.
  • Our new neighbors could care less about keeping their lawn tidy.
  • Honestly, I could care less about what my mother thinks of my outfit.

I Couldn’t Care Less Examples in a Sentence

I Could Care Less Usage Meaning 1

And here’s how we traditionally express total indifference in a technically correct way.

  • I couldn’t care less about whether he came to the party.
  • Sharon couldn’t care less about the new policies just introduced at work.
  • I despise sports. I couldn’t care less about who is playing or winning the game tonight; I’m just here for the beer and wings.

Both Are the Correct Expression

Boiled down to the core, whether you use could care less or the original expression couldn’t care less to show your total indifference might not matter much, especially in casual conversation or writing. Still, it’s always fun and worthwhile to dive into the intricacies of the English language and understand why we say what we say. Until next time!

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