Usage quandaries, part 5: Could care less


Idioms don't always make sense


Regarding the comments related to Usage quandary part 5 & examples given of idioms not having to make sense, I am commenting on the examples given. I agree with "cat got your tongue" not making sense, but "bite the dust" indicates that when you die, you hit the ground & get dust in your mouth. Also, when some people are frustrated, they do tend to grab at their hair & pull, so "pulling my hair out" also makes sense to me.

Anyway, thanks for these; very enjoyable & helpful, Marcellina

Posted on Wed, 06/06/2012 - 4:51am

Erin Brenner's picture

Thank you for your comments,

Erin Brenner

Thank you for your comments, Marcellina. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

Posted on Wed, 06/06/2012 - 8:01am

"Could care less" caused me a


"Could care less" caused me a lot of confusion when I was younger. I’d hear it and recognize that it didn’t make sense, but I was always too embarrassed to actually ask about it; so many people said it that I assumed I was misunderstanding something.

Anyway, this variant of "couldn't care less" presumably began as an eggcorn; the speaker says "couldn't," the listener hears "could." I don't consider that a valid reason for an idiom not to make literal sense. It's not a figure of speech, it's simply a mishearing.

Of course, what I think isn't likely to influence many other people. It seems the only hope for those who reject the legitimacy of "could care less" is that the original stays at least as popular as the younger, corrupted (with all negative connotations of "corrupted" intended) form.

Posted on Tue, 03/19/2013 - 7:06am

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Posted on Mon, 09/22/2014 - 3:39am

The problem with idioms


The difference here, to me, seems to be one of tone. Couldn't care less is straightforward and easy to understand. Could care less is sarcasm.

Posted on Tue, 10/07/2014 - 7:37am