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Could you really care less?
October 31, 2010 1:15 AM   Subscribe

"I couldn't care less" vs. "I could care less"... A letter to Ann Landers in October 1960 is credited with starting the debate over "one of the great language peeves of our time." Via.

More on the issue:

From Language Log (also referenced in the main link, but worth reading on its own).

From World Wide Words.

From Dictionary.com.

The Caring Continuum from Incompetech.
posted by amyms (167 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I come firmly down on the side of 'I couldn't care less!'
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:21 AM on October 31, 2010 [10 favorites]


I could care less but I care so little I'm not even bothering to expend the energy to do that!
posted by Silentgoldfish at 1:29 AM on October 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Obligatory.
posted by Decani at 1:30 AM on October 31, 2010 [21 favorites]


I heart David Mitchell.
posted by inturnaround at 1:33 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


BRIDE IS RADIANT BUT SHOELESS
posted by subgear at 1:33 AM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've never understood why some people can't grasp that "I could care less" is not a literal expression of apathy.

It's meant to be sarcastic - as in, "I could care less - if I gave a damn to begin with."
posted by Despondent_Monkey at 1:35 AM on October 31, 2010 [16 favorites]


'Could care less,' is a wonderful marker for identifying the foolish.
posted by anigbrowl at 1:39 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Obligatory.

Funny enough, but mostly I was pissing myself at the advert for men's skin care products called "Bulldog".
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:46 AM on October 31, 2010


It's meant to be sarcastic - as in, "I could care less - if I gave a damn to begin with."

That's how I've always read it. Maybe I was making excuses for people who say it, but I'm pretty certain it's an excuse I started making well before I was around people I thought needed to be excused for acting like prats about the whole thing.
posted by mph at 1:48 AM on October 31, 2010


Yeah, either can be correct depending on the tone.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:51 AM on October 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


There is a "great debate" here only in the sense that there is a debate between the theory of evolution and intelligent design. People who say "I could care less" are wrong and sound stupid; it's that simple.
posted by nowonmai at 1:53 AM on October 31, 2010 [12 favorites]


It's meant to be sarcastic - as in, "I could care less - if I gave a damn to begin with."

Exactly. It's always seemed pretty obvious to me.
posted by brundlefly at 2:06 AM on October 31, 2010


People who say "I could care less" are wrong and sound stupid; it's that simple.

No they aren't, and no it isn't.

This whole pointless exercise of trying to "correct" people who use the latter, sarcastic phrase often betrays a very subtle class and gender bias. In my experience, the people who use "I could care less" tend to be blue-collar, working-class males, and those who use the "correct" version are frequently (but not exclusively) well-educated, upper-class, and female.

Furthermore, it's the height of sneering vapidity to attempt to get somebody to use the "proper" form of an expression that's meant to be a more polite way of saying, "I don't give a fuck" in the first place.
posted by Despondent_Monkey at 2:08 AM on October 31, 2010 [9 favorites]


There is no debate. Say what you mean. But you might sound like an idiot if you don't say what you mean.
posted by CarlRossi at 2:11 AM on October 31, 2010


We can't under-rate the importance of this.
posted by Segundus at 2:27 AM on October 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't ever feel less like an idiot than when I never don't say something genuinely disingenuous.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:27 AM on October 31, 2010


Not sure whether this confusion is primarily a US-centred thing? From a UK perspective I think it would be unusual if these phrases were confused - they have entirely different meanings. "I could care less" simply means "I could care less than I do, if I could be bothered to think about it". "I couldn't care less" means precisely that i.e. "I could not care less than I actually do - I don't give a flying fuck". Seems to me that putting the stress on the "I" in "I could care less" is where the confusion arises - but that's not an emphasis that that would be common in everday British English (even saying the phrase to myself with the stress on the "I" immediately sounds foreign/American to me). Of course, I couldn't care less if none of that makes any sense.....:-)
posted by MajorDundee at 2:52 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Excusing bad use of language as an artifact of class division is a little like excusing the inability to add numbers together. Yes, it's understandable and not something to beat yourself up about, but that doesn't make it differently right.

Granted, language is flexible in a way that mathematics isn't, but nevertheless it's lazy thinking to pretend that every arrangement of words is of equal merit. In this case, one clearly makes sense in a way that the other doesn't. I could start a trend for saying 'I have some idea' instead of 'I have no idea', and millions of (blue-collar or otherwise) people could start saying the same thing, but it wouldn't make it any less nonsensical.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:57 AM on October 31, 2010 [17 favorites]


No, I really couldn't.
posted by clarknova at 3:05 AM on October 31, 2010


I think this Language Log post about "begging the question" is fun. Apropos of nothing except that sometimes a large majority of even the most literate users of a language uses a word or phrase "wrong"(ly?).

(Probably been posted before, but worth a rerun.)
posted by Dumsnill at 3:15 AM on October 31, 2010


I'm sure that in 30 years time "I could care less" will universally and undisputedly accepted to mean "I couldn't care less". Just like "literally" will have secondary meaning of "figuratively", just like "inflammable" means "flammable" and "really" came to mean "very".

Language evolves, descriptive vs proscriptive blah blah etc. But the "I could care less (but that would take effort I'm not willing to expend)" is bullshit. It's a folk etymology. An after-the-fact justification so people wouldn't have to change the way they talk.

You say it because it's how you learned it, or because it's easier to say or because everyone knows what you mean anyway, or even just to piss off people like me. Don't try to pretend that there's some subtler wit at play. "I could care less" doesn't make sense, but language doesn't have to make sense, so have the courage of your convictions and stop being so disingenuous.
posted by Lorc at 3:17 AM on October 31, 2010 [22 favorites]


Cheap at half the price!

I had it explained to me that it being wrong is part of "the joke." OK, whatever.

Well, it's actually correct, but you know what I mean. It should be cheap at double the price!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 3:45 AM on October 31, 2010


I could care more.
posted by telstar at 3:56 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sure that in 30 years time "I could care less" will universally and undisputedly accepted to mean "I couldn't care less".

This battle has already been waging for over 50 years; I suspect it will be universally accepted the same week (a) we get permanent peace in the Middle East or (b) Libertarians accept the need for Social Security or (c) Garfield is crowned King of the LOLcats.

Still, this is a perfect example of the need for a Universal Sarcasm Designator, as in:
"I could care less hamburger."

Related: If hamburger identifies sarcasm, then EXTREME sarcasm should be identified by mcrib.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:07 AM on October 31, 2010 [8 favorites]


I can't commit to caring more and/or less.
posted by Harry at 4:19 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


In my experience, the people who use "I could care less" tend to be blue-collar, working-class males, and those who use the "correct" version are frequently (but not exclusively) well-educated, upper-class, and female.

posted by Despondent_Monkey at 10:08 AM on October 31


Yes, education will tend to help with that whole "not making ignorant mistakes" thing.
posted by Decani at 4:21 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I love ambiguity. It's like Choose Your Own Adventure, but with words. In the could/couldn't care less debate, it really comes down to what's being elided (left out) in speech, but exists in people's heads. As MajorDundee said upthread, for the "couldn't care less" campers, the complete mental representation looks something like "I couldn't care [any] less [than I already do - which is to say, not at all]." And the "could care less" camp has something like "I could care less [about this topic, but I can't be bothered.]"

One thing I like about the "could care less" camp is that there's this meta abstraction going on. As in the person cares so little about the topic that the apathy has bleed into their lack of investment about even expressing the very idea (the message itself). But the "couldn't care less" camp is neat too, because they're doing this hyperbolic exaggeration about the existence of nothing. As if they're saying "I feel n-minus-one about this topic"; where n=0.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:22 AM on October 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


A letter to Ann Landers in October 1960 is credited with starting the great debate over "one of the great language peeves of our time." --- If only there was the internet and Metafilter in 1960. We'd have it hammered out in a day or two, easy.
posted by crunchland at 4:44 AM on October 31, 2010


I believe the point of the language folks is that either is currently acceptable in US today. But what sort of person would even bother with one or the other of those overused expressions?
posted by Postroad at 4:46 AM on October 31, 2010


Well, that just begs the question.
posted by Dumsnill at 4:50 AM on October 31, 2010


I hate people who say, "I couldn't give a fuck". It doesn't make any sense, because you don't "give" a fuck, you fuck (or you do not fuck). It's not something you give! So anyone who uses that expression obviously isn't speaking English at all, and they are unthinking morons and I am the best at speaking and only I am right and my ego is safe from the awful dread that uncontrollable nature inflicts upon the living. Please do not destroy me, God! I am superior to certain others! I abide by the obscure commandments of society!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:01 AM on October 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


If you think there's really a "right answer" to this issue, you've got another think coming.
posted by escabeche at 5:01 AM on October 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


Clearly "I could give a fuck," "I could care less," etc. are based on a geek Weltanschaung in which all statements mean: "I might [if a universe in which that made sense existed]"
posted by Dumsnill at 5:06 AM on October 31, 2010


I prefer "Who gives a shit?"
posted by bwg at 5:17 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Meh.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:17 AM on October 31, 2010


If you think there's really a "right answer" to this issue, you've got another think coming.

Yeah, for all intensive purposes the two phrases parse identically anyway.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:18 AM on October 31, 2010 [9 favorites]


Yes, education will tend to help with that whole "not making ignorant mistakes" thing.

Sometimes it does, and then you see stuff like this.
posted by Dumsnill at 5:21 AM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do you understand what someone means when they say either?

Mission accomplished.
posted by RavinDave at 5:30 AM on October 31, 2010


Hmm. I've never thought that people who say "I could care less" were being sarcastic. I might have thought so if they emphasized the word "could", but they generally don't, in my experience.

I *could* care less. Yeah, sure, sarcastic. But I've never heard it said that way.

I could care less. As typically said, doesn't sound the least bit sarcastic to me, it just sounds stupid, but I suppose it's possible they're just not very good at projecting their sarcasm.
posted by smcameron at 5:35 AM on October 31, 2010


In fairness to the (wrong) people who think only the "couldn't" variant is acceptable, the (preferable) "could" variant works best in speech with a suitably expressive speaker; where the (inferior but) clearer "couldn't" variant gets the point drearily and literally across in speech or text with little or no chance for (idiotic and/or pedantic) confusion.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 5:36 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


On second thought, the "sarcastic" I could care less still doesn't make any sense.

To be sarcastic, and make sense, you'd say, "I could care." leaving unsaid "but I'm not going to."

A sarcastic "I could care less" leaves a similar "but I'm not going to *care less*" unsaid. So, you're not going the care less, you're going to care some amount? Okay. Makes no sense.
posted by smcameron at 5:41 AM on October 31, 2010


I hate people who say, "I couldn't give a fuck". It doesn't make any sense, because you don't "give" a fuck, you fuck (or you do not fuck).

I gave a fuck to your mother last night, Trebeck.
posted by brevator at 5:44 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I prefer "Who gives a shit?"

Bears and/or the pope, possibly.
posted by bonehead at 5:45 AM on October 31, 2010


Obvious answer to this clearly difficult puzzle:

[Yeah, like] I could care less.

[Yeah, like] I give a fuck.

[Yeah, like] I care.

etc.

The [Yeah, like]s or [as if]s are understood but not pronounced.
posted by Dumsnill at 5:47 AM on October 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's interesting how those accusing others of making 'ignorant mistakes' are aparently unaware of their own linguistic ignorance.
Whatever, please continue to make up 'rules' as you see fit.
posted by signal at 5:49 AM on October 31, 2010


Sorry, substitute the [Yeah, like] with [As if]

I have found the solution!
posted by Dumsnill at 5:49 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's no possible way that I could care any less about this issue, since I'm already at a care-level of zero.

To me, it's just another indication of a lack of education, in a similar manner to a conversation that is littered with excessive use of words/phrases such as "like", "whatever", "yeah", "know what I mean" and so on. Yes it annoys me, but there are much better things to waste my energy and anger worrying over.

In essence, I could care an awful lot more... but I'm not going to.
posted by Chunder at 5:53 AM on October 31, 2010


I love "I could care less". You care so little you don't even care about making sense with the very words you're using to express how little you care.

However, that's not what's going on. It's the musicality of the phrase. I could CARE LESS just sounds better, with the emphasis on your lack of interest. To use the same emphasis but substituting "couldn't" basically chops off the "n't" and sounds like "could" anyway. And the alternative, stressing the "couldn't," just sounds asinine. Say it out loud.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:07 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


i'd love to debate this but i've got to take a shit
posted by pyramid termite at 6:12 AM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I hate people who say, "I couldn't give a fuck". It doesn't make any sense, because you don't "give" a fuck, you fuck (or you do not fuck).

Makes perfect sense if you untangle the transactional context. It's not about fucking per se. It's about "a fuck" as a commodity. So it's being used here in precisely the same way as "I don't give a plugged nickel" or "I don't give a toss" or "a shit" or anything generally of low value. Whether a fuck is of low value is not something I'd necessarily agree with at my age...chance would be a fine thing....

Oh and while brevator was fucking your mother last night Trebeck it may comfort you to know that I knocked off his girlfriend and stole his car.
posted by MajorDundee at 6:14 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't give a flying rat's ass through a rolling doughnut.
posted by Wylie Kyoto at 6:18 AM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've never understood why some people can't grasp that "I could care less" is not a literal expression of apathy.

It's meant to be sarcastic - as in, "I could care less - if I gave a damn to begin with."


Yes, sarcasm was all the rage back in the '60s in an Ann Landers column.

Its more likely that you guys are just wrong.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:30 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I could care less, and I am a white female with a Ph.D.
posted by Peach at 6:30 AM on October 31, 2010


I got into a discussion with a friend who dislikes misuse of these types of sayings as much as I do. I brought up "begging the question" as another, expecting an "oh, yeah, everyone uses that wrong, too!" and got "Well, everyone except mathematicians use it to mean xyz". I decided that people are just going to use these saying incorrectly, and I take comfort in sideways glances at my wife when we hear "much to do about nothing" or "besides the point" and then let it go. Yea, it's annoying, but there are far more important things to get bothered by.

But, yes, deep down I really could care less, because as much as I don't want it to it actually bothers me.
posted by monkeymadness at 6:34 AM on October 31, 2010


Irregardless of which is correct, both are supposably utilized to convey similar sentiments.
posted by Wash Jones at 6:36 AM on October 31, 2010


Yeah, for all intensive purposes the two phrases parse identically anyway.

Tell me that was just you continuing the grammatical fuckups and misformed phrases...
It's another one that's really started to bug me the more I see it; it's intents and purposes.
posted by opsin at 6:37 AM on October 31, 2010


Oh my god, this thread is going to make my head explode. In a medium with no sense of sarcasm, people shouldn't be playing with irregardlesses and supposablies. It's not right!
posted by opsin at 6:40 AM on October 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


The real problem occurs when someone wants to literally indicate that their level of caring about an issue could be less than it is - they really could care less.

What about those people, WHAT THEN?!
posted by Salvor Hardin at 6:40 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


i'd love to debate this but i've got to take a shit

I couldn't give a shit.
posted by three blind mice at 6:42 AM on October 31, 2010


the letter reached ann landers 2 days before dorothy ding smutz's piano recital
posted by kitchenrat at 6:42 AM on October 31, 2010


I could care less where I'm a Viking.
posted by hincandenza at 6:43 AM on October 31, 2010


(Grinning) and what about grocer's apostrophes? and homonyms? And possessive pronouns formed with apostrophes? And "ten items or less?" Let loose the hounds of peevology!. (Standing back and warming hands at blaze). I'm with Stephen Fry on this.

And anyhow, anyway, anywhether, whether someone writes "I could care less" or "I couldn't care less" in a paper, I'm marking it wrong because WHY are you writing about something in which you have little or no interest?
posted by Peach at 6:50 AM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Care less, I could, yes.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:51 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


posted by monospace at 6:55 AM on October 31, 2010


I take comfort in sideways glances at my wife when we hear "much to do about nothing" or "besides the point" ...

With what kind of slack-jawed yokels are you socializing?
posted by Huck500 at 6:57 AM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm marking it wrong because WHY are you writing about something in which you have little or no interest?

"I am absolutely fascinated by this shit, and I could care less about what you fucking office rat paper-grading assclown think of my paper."

Oh, to have been a rogue student.
posted by Dumsnill at 6:57 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hate people who call me "Trebeck" because that is not even a word! People who nonword speechings should be give up to a slapapaulting punishout! DO NOT MAIM ME O LORD I AM KEEP YOUR HOLY SPEECH PURE. MAIM THE MALPRONOUNCERS I BEG THEE
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:03 AM on October 31, 2010


I've always read it as "I could care less, but only if paid to do so" - except the person doesn't even care enough to finish the damn sentence.
posted by daniel_charms at 7:03 AM on October 31, 2010


Ask me if I care.
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:21 AM on October 31, 2010


"I could care less" sounds better. It's that simple. Four monosyllables of total dismissal. Putting "couldn't" in there changes it from an expression with total unity of form and purpose to a bland statement of fact. The latter form is grammatically correct but stylistically wanting.
posted by rusty at 7:25 AM on October 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


Oh, to have been a rogue student.
I wrote a paper like that once, and then was offended to get a C. Oh, I was young and stupid.
posted by Peach at 7:28 AM on October 31, 2010


My care level is so low that it cannot possibly be any lower, therefore I couldn't care less.
posted by Evernix at 7:29 AM on October 31, 2010


The issue is confused because there's 2 things at play here: first, "couldn't" sounds too stuffy and awkward (stupidsexyFlanders above is aboslutely right), basically, it wouldn't be used in any expression popular in a blue-collar / whatever setting. Same thing for "wouldn't". It just sounds too richard-dawkins-y. And so it gets simplified because the expression can't be misunderstood, anyway. The other thing is emphatically describing something as obviously the opposite of its quality: that's a really BIG dog (about the tiniest dog).
posted by rainy at 7:33 AM on October 31, 2010


Well played, Ann Landers. Well played indeed.
posted by Gator at 7:40 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


"couldn't" sounds too stuffy and awkward ... Same thing for "wouldn't". It just sounds too richard-dawkins-y.

How can you even have a proper conversation then? Aren't those things a normal part of speech where you live, like can't and won't? I wouldn't even be able to put together a simple sentence like this if I couldn't use those words. The mind boggles.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:51 AM on October 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't ever feel less like an idiot than when I never don't say something genuinely disingenuous.

I knew what this thrread would be like before I opened it, so I cannot help but fail not to be unsurprised to hear someone say this.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:04 AM on October 31, 2010


I could care less, and I am a white female with a Ph.D

That must be awesome for winning arguments!

"Hey, Jim and Amanda were showing me their pictures of their trip to Norway. They stayed at this gorgeous hotel in Copenhagen, and..."

"Isn't Copenhagen in Denmark?"

"I say it is in Norway, and I have a Ph.D!"

"Ah. Go on."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:12 AM on October 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


Huh? I've always understood it to mean 'I could care less [if I hadn't just noticed this weird mole on the back of my leg. I mean, check that out. That looks weird, right? It kinda has, like this texture to it? Like, how long has that been there, and how could I not have noticed that thing? And where that is situated, it's not like I can check on any old photos to see if it's been there. Well apart from those ones from Gainesville last March and Marleen went and deleted them *and* smashed up my camera which was totally unnecessary because she said they'd get on the internet if she didn't. Like who'd pay money to look at her? Anyway, people die from shit like this, in weeks, days even]
posted by Flashman at 8:15 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


That must be awesome for winning arguments!

No, no:

"As a karate expert I can safely say that Norway is in Copenhagen."

"But..."

"Are you a karate expert?"

"No, but..."

"Case closed"
posted by Dumsnill at 8:23 AM on October 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that the people could say "I couldn't care less" could, in fact, care less, as would be demonstrated by their not bothering to respond at all. Therefore it is they that are strictly semantically (and mathematically) incorrect, not the "I could care less" people. That said, I have no idea why anyone would care at all about the component semantics. They're both idioms. The meaning of the parts is irrelevant.
posted by yeolcoatl at 8:27 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I believe Peach was not referring to her authority as a PhD but rather responding to this statement:

In my experience, the people who use "I could care less" tend to be blue-collar, working-class males, and those who use the "correct" version are frequently (but not exclusively) well-educated, upper-class, and female.

The gender part seems a little mysterious to me - why would we ladies have more grammar snoots among us?
posted by naoko at 8:29 AM on October 31, 2010


Boy, the people who continue to stubbornly use the wrong saying get really defensive about their wrongness, don't they?
posted by ReeMonster at 8:29 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I believe Peach was not referring to her authority as a PhD but rather responding to this statement

Yeah, you're right. Once again my karate expertise has led me astray.
posted by Dumsnill at 8:33 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


@naoko . That's actually well documented. Women tend to be socialized to be more status conscious, and so they use more upper class speech than men of similar cultural backgrounds. Middle class women especially are also more likely to "overcorrect," that is, use upper class sounding speech forms in ways that are not actually used by the upper class.
posted by yeolcoatl at 8:35 AM on October 31, 2010


Irregardless those who could care less must flush out their arguments more as it begs the question of what they mean to say. Can they actually care less? Please get back to me shortly.
posted by humanfont at 8:37 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Could everyone who is espousing the sarcasm idea try at least one of the following?

1. Actually listen to someone saying "I could care less" and detect even a hint of sarcasm.
2. Read the languagelog article.

Lorc has it almost exactly right:

You say it because it's how you learned it, or because it's easier to say or because everyone knows what you mean anyway, or even just to piss off people like me.
posted by Jpfed at 8:41 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


And THE LORD said, "thou shall not kill". And Moses said, "praise be to you, LORD. But can I just ask: what of those who cannot pronounce the 'sh' in 'shibboleth'? Surely we can kill those pricks?" And THE LORD said, "oh sure - I didn't mean you can't kill them! Ha Ha! Fuck me, you should kill those assholes like a motherfucker." And Moses said, "praise be to you, LORD".
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:48 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Women tend to be socialized to be more status conscious, and so they use more upper class speech than men of similar cultural backgrounds. Middle class women especially are also more likely to "overcorrect," that is, use upper class sounding speech forms in ways that are not actually used by the upper class.

Interesting! I'd love to know more, if you've got any links handy.
posted by naoko at 9:01 AM on October 31, 2010


I like the cartoon on the next page with the enraged elephant trying to shake the man out of the tree. Seems oddly prophetic somehow.
posted by blucevalo at 9:03 AM on October 31, 2010


To me, it's just another indication of a lack of education, in a similar manner to a conversation that is littered with excessive use of words/phrases such as "like", "whatever", "yeah", "know what I mean" and so on.

This is funny because I hear college students do this all the time.

Oh, certainly, being in college doesn't mean that you're exceptionally bright or that you have a firm grasp on, well, anything. But it does mean that when it comes to education, you're from a privileged class. If college students are suffering from a lack of education because they use these words to what you consider an excessive degree, then what vanishingly small subset of people do have an education?

You can only educate people out of your grammar peeves if they 1) accept that they're actually wrong, and there's often a good argument that they're not, and 2) accept that they should care.

I personally could care less that some people use an English idiom that has an opposite meaning to its literal interpretation. Like, it's an idiom. Whatever.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:05 AM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I could care less. People who pedantically correct other people's language - especially when they understand the point perfectly - are offensive assholes. It's intentional and they deserve to be stuffed into a sack and immersed in the nearest body of water.

They don't have a point other than they are arguing just to score points.

So there.
posted by warbaby at 9:09 AM on October 31, 2010


@naoko. I don't. All my references are in book form. Perhaps a search for "dialectology" or "hypercorrection" will turn up something for you.
posted by yeolcoatl at 9:09 AM on October 31, 2010


There's an AskMe on the issue of "could care less", with various links and explanations...
posted by mdn at 9:10 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


What? debate? WTF?

Is there a debate about 2+2=4? Is there a debate about if flinging poop in public is objectionable?

There is no debate. "I could care less" most of the time is intended to mean "I couldn't care less". Only it's spoken incorrectly.

Yes, we all know what it is meant to mean. That does not make it correct. It may be acceptable usage among the ignorant and ill-bred, as many things are.

FWIW, "irregardless" is frequently used when the speaker means "regardless". It is wrongly spoken, though the intent is clear. Often "irregardless" is used when the speaker really means "irrespective" which is where the confusion comes from.

Despite the fact that I personally use double negatives in colloquial speech and in certain situations (such as speaking to a meth addled layabout asking for spare change - "I ain't got none" correctly conveys my intent, if not the precise truth), this does not make them "correct".

There is no debate. There are the continually offered lame defensive rationalizations by the offending parties, but there really is no debate. Like American politics.
posted by Xoebe at 9:17 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


an expression that's meant to be a more polite way of saying, "I don't give a fuck" in the first place.

Which should actually read as "I don't fucking care" (as has been pointed out already in the thread; not giving a fuck being confusing in its own right). Although, I believe one could apply more emphasis. Either:

"I don't FUCKING care."

or,

"I DON'T FUCKING CARE."

Kind of how I feel about the blue collar/lack of education derail going on here. Keep going, folks. Rip each other apart for alleged sins of classism, pedantry, sarcasm.

I DON'T FUCKING CARE

... and yes, as a matter of fact, I am a white female karate expert with a PHD.
posted by philip-random at 9:25 AM on October 31, 2010


Just throw your hands in the air and wave them like you could care less in the hypothetical situation in which you might care more than you do.
posted by The World Famous at 9:25 AM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I really, really don't understand the pissiness about this. Then again I might just be ignorant.
posted by brundlefly at 9:26 AM on October 31, 2010


especially when they understand the point perfectly

There it is: the ever-ready defense of the careless, the uneducated, and the hopelessly inarticulate: "Oh, come on, you know what I mean."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:29 AM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


"I could care less" requires the utterer to be sarcastic about being sarcastic. Most people are incapable of meta-sarcasm.
posted by polymodus at 9:30 AM on October 31, 2010


It may be acceptable usage among the ignorant and ill-bred

This is an excellent example of the darker side of a lot of language snobbery: The relationship between disliking what people say, and disliking the people who say it. There has always been a strong correlation between forms considered inferior and people who are considered inferior.

"Ill-bred" is an especially nice touch. Good job.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:36 AM on October 31, 2010 [14 favorites]


Yes, we all know what it is meant to mean. That does not make it correct. It may be acceptable usage among the ignorant and ill-bred, as many things are.

Such a relief to have one of the linguistic aristocracy come by and correct us peasants. Spare the lash, spoil the vocabulary, I always say.

'Course, I'm jess some ig'nint hick from the northern sticks who writes for a living. I likes mah cartoons better'n that Grecian theatre stuff too. Might just start dropping "I could care less" into every other article I write. Not because I use it all that much myself, but because as a writer I'd cut out my tongue and hack both my hands off rather than live and speak and type in the linguistic world of the prescriptivists, and so I'd like to do my part to give the language cops a few more citations for the accepted usage pile.

On preview: what Kutsuwamushi said.
posted by gompa at 9:38 AM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thank you for saying that, Kusuwamushi. I was trying and failing to get my thoughts in order. Also, was trying to figure out if "ill-bred" was meant seriously, because it sounds like something a guy wearing a top hat and monocle would say.
posted by brundlefly at 9:41 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well dayum, we knows what people means when they says 'nucular', but that still don't make it raht.
posted by Flashman at 10:02 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


PRESCRIPTIVIST RAGE*

*a comic about which, I'm certain, you could care less (or not).
posted by emumimic at 10:05 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Truly, there is nothing less to say.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 10:07 AM on October 31, 2010


"I could care less" sounds better. It's that simple. Four monosyllables of total dismissal. Putting "couldn't" in there changes it from an expression with total unity of form and purpose to a bland statement of fact. The latter form is grammatically correct but stylistically wanting.
posted by rusty


I could be happier with your logic, rusty--know what I mean?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:07 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


weapons-grade pandemonium: I have no idea what you mean, but I like the cut of your jib.
posted by rusty at 10:14 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I could care less" doesn't make me think people are quite a obnoxiously dumb as when consultants use the word "solutioning" (my current pet peeve at work - solving is a word we already have for this!), but it's wrong and shows the speaker to not think too hard about the words coming out of their mouth.
posted by HotPants at 10:14 AM on October 31, 2010


I'm as bugged as they come when people use "your" instead of "you're" and all that jazz, but I understand perfectly what someone means when they use "I could care less." It's a single token of a phrase that isn't dissected in someone's mine; it's used as a thought emblem. Sure, it probably started off as "couldn't" but the natural flow of language wore off an edge or two. It might be illogical, but most idioms are. I wouldn't use it in an academic paper, but I would use it in conversation or writings where idioms and informality would be appropriate.

In the end, "I could care less" works well enough, and certainly isn't an egregious violation of language, even if it seems counter-intuitive.

(See also: "Head-over-heels in love". My head is almost always over my heels. Or perhaps it's discussing the primacy of using arcane classes rather than priestly ones for party selection.)
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:17 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hot Pants, I work very hard with what words come out of my mouth, but I still prefer "I could care less". It's acceptable among most of society and has a more pleasing sound. I've chosen it with great care.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:18 AM on October 31, 2010


Well put, Lord Chancellor.* The fact that people are getting worked up and holier than thou about whether an idiom is "correct" or not is beyond me.

*I feel like a politician in a space opera!
posted by brundlefly at 10:22 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


See also: "Head-over-heels in love". My head is almost always over my heels.

Yes. This. Everyone knows that the correct phrase is, "ass-over-teakettle."
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:36 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


as when consultants use the word "solutioning"

Hitler was big on solutioning.

took 100+ comments but we did it, man, we Godwinned this thing ... not that anyone fucking cares
posted by philip-random at 10:37 AM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


See also: "Head-over-heels in love".

or ummm, "to hell in a handbasket." I mean, I understand what a handbasket is (not that I've ever felt the need to own one). But how does one go to hell in one? And why? A headbasket, on the other hand, I can sort of see.
posted by philip-random at 10:43 AM on October 31, 2010


I believe Peach was not referring to her authority as a PhD but rather responding to this statement

It could be read either way, but that doesn't matter. This thread has certainly taught me that it doesn't really matter what you actually write as long as you can convince yourself that your readers have the patience to sort it out on their own. 'Cause language is always like changing, you know? Clarity is for pedants.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:15 PM on October 31, 2010


Yes, I was responding to the statement in a faintly sarcastic tone--Believe me, I am under no illusions that a doctorate gives me any authority. I are an English teacher, too. And I think it's fucking hilarious how easily people can be sucked into the battle over correctitudinousness in the English language. Is it just an American thing? Or do people who speak other languages fall into this particular black hole so easily? The language is FULL of things that are acceptable but illogical or based on back-formations. How "correct" it is is based on how long it has been around, who uses it, and whether people spoke that way when the hearer was eight years old.
There is no debate. There are the continually offered lame defensive rationalizations by the offending parties, but there really is no debate. Like American politics.
Or, as in another forum to which I subscribe, a poster said, referring to transgender athletes participating in single-sex competitions:
I cannot believe that that there is all this discussion over something that is clearly wrong!
Of course, that poster was clearly wrong :)
posted by Peach at 12:30 PM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I couldn't care less. Bets are still on. You couldn't hear a pin drop. Ten dollars a dozen. A fourth wheel. That went over like a balloon filled with air. Paint yourself up to the wall. The rest is potatoes. Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words can hurt me too.
posted by EmGeeJay at 12:44 PM on October 31, 2010


"I could care less." is wrong. "I could care less..." is correct. You need to get the silent ellipsis in there somewhere, as if you're imagining some over-elaborate far-fetched sci-fi scenario where you would, in theory, care less.
posted by ctmf at 1:05 PM on October 31, 2010


Oh, wait, I can't believe I screwed that up. That was supposed to start with "I could care less." Because it's wrong. I must have an ingrained aversion to typing it that way, even to make a point.
posted by EmGeeJay at 1:09 PM on October 31, 2010


i.e., it's shorthand for "While that doesn't exactly have ZERO significance to me, on the ranked list of things I find significant, it's pretty dang far down."

I don't really get what's so hard to understand about that, but since so many people don't get it, I've stopped using it. Who wants to tell a joke that nobody gets?
posted by ctmf at 1:13 PM on October 31, 2010


but since so many people don't get it,

Or more accurately, could get it, but don't want to.
posted by ctmf at 1:27 PM on October 31, 2010


On the one hand, "could care less" versus "couldn't care less" probably is a useful class marker if you want that sort of thing.

On the other hand, arguing that a particular version of an idiomatic expression is the right one because it makes better technical sense than another version seems profoundly silly. I mean, even if you get the whole nine yards, you are not actually going to receive nine yards of anything, and even if the item in question is the real McCoy, it isn't the real McCoy unless it is a human being.

It's like arguing that "raining buckets" is better than "raining cats and dogs," because it could conceivably rain buckets-of-water (minus the buckets), but barring a tornado (or an explosion at a puppy mill) it will not ever rain cats and dogs.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:00 PM on October 31, 2010


Naoko:

Most of my references are in book form, also, but I was able to find this article by Penny Eckert, one of the big names in studying gender differences in language. It's not as recent as I would like, but it's still a good overview of some of the research that's been done.

As I just found while googling, one problem with finding a good introduction to this outside of a textbook is that it's fairly well-accepted that women tend to use more standard speech forms than men. If you just google, you'll find lots of people researching/debating the finer details.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:37 PM on October 31, 2010


But those are unrelated idioms, whereas "could care less" is a corruption of an existing one with exactly the same (intended) meaning. "To all intensive purposes" or "wet your appetite" are better analogies.

(I've had people argue quite vehemently that the latter is correct based on wet=saliva-mouthwatering. They're wrong, but they make a far more convincing case than the "I could care less = sarcasm" crowd)
posted by Lorc at 2:42 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dumsnill: I think this Language Log post about "begging the question" is fun. Apropos of nothing except that sometimes a large majority of even the most literate users of a language uses a word or phrase "wrong"(ly?).

I deliberately use the 'wrong' meaning for that phrase, because I think the 'proper' meaning is barely related to the words being used. "Beg" means "to ask for". Nowhere in any other usage I'm aware of does "beg" have anything to do with ideas or the creation of much of anything. And if you look at Dumsnill's link, the whole usage came about because of a translation error from Latin.

If you want to accuse someone of using a circular argument, just say so, in nice clear language. And leave the rest of us, who are also using nice clear language, the heck alone. Hmph.

Get out of my language, you old fogies, and I'll stay off your lawn.
posted by Malor at 4:21 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those of you sneering at proscriptivists will love having to take people who say "refudiate" seriously soon enough.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:40 PM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is it just an American thing? Or do people who speak other languages fall into this particular black hole so easily?

I understand that the French love that sort of thing. You can always find discussions on the correct usage of Greek, especially as anyone may declare their eclectic mix of archaic and vernacular elements the only correct version of the language. Then there are the amateur etymologists and people who are just right (like someone who considered a form of the word "bed" a barbarism despite the same form being attributed to Jesus in the NT).
posted by ersatz at 5:56 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm going to have to side with the language prescriptivists, even if they can be pedantic assholes at times. Of course language evolves and in a sense it doesn't matter as long as you are understood, but reducing language to a purely functional means of exchanging information is a pretty shoddy way to treat something that is a unique and essential part of expressing our human experience. Would you say the same thing about music or art or architecture? What about aesthetic considerations? Some grammatical constructions just sound butt ugly. They're ear-sores and people who use them are cultural polluters. Same goes for annoying business/management jargon phrases like overusing "going forward".

Another thing is that when the wrong meaning of a phrase like "begging the question" gets used over and over it starts to become the accepted usage, and then what do you use when you want to use it in the correct sense? If there is another phrase that works just as well for the intended meaning (i.e. "raising the question") then why not encourage people to use that?
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 6:42 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone fire up the Hat Signal.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:16 PM on October 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


If you want to accuse someone of using a circular argument, just say so, in nice clear language.

"Begging the question" and "using a circular argument" do not mean the quite same thing. Instead of introducing this additional confusion, why not just adopt the correct usage?
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 7:38 PM on October 31, 2010


Because the "correct" technical usage is needless jargon for something readily describable in a few words of plain, ordinary English: assuming what you claim to prove. Worse, it's jargon that might not appear at first glance to be jargon. Equivalent expressions like petitio principii, while still pretty pointless for such a simple concept, at least have the minimal benefit of being obviously distant from ordinary English speech.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:04 PM on October 31, 2010


I'm not saying people have to use it, especially not if there are better alternatives. I'm just saying if they use it, they should use it correctly/"correctly".
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 8:38 PM on October 31, 2010


"I could care less" says "I care so little that I can't be bothered to use correct grammar in the process of not caring," so it's definitely the better idiom.
posted by speicus at 9:33 PM on October 31, 2010


Other languages do have debates like the one we have had here. A lot of the time the debate is about loan-words. Whole idioms adopted from other languages can set of some fireworks.

I have a peeve with expressions like 'targeting' why in Hell is that being used? Simply awful. Then back in th '60s good old 'hopefully' used to piss off my entire family. Saying 'groovy!' could get me in more trouble than using swear-words. Swear-words are after all Anglo-Saxon words. 'What the Hell is Groovy?'
well now I use 'groovy' a bit. As in 'i found a real groovy vintage granny gown at the Sally'
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:08 PM on October 31, 2010


I'm nonplussed at this thread.

(I usually couldn't care less about prescriptivism, but I hate it when people misuse "nonplussed" because the meaning is almost exactly opposite of the correct one, and it can in fact be confusing.)
posted by kmz at 11:22 PM on October 31, 2010


Nonplussed is considered an auto-antonym (or Janus word, or contranym, contronym, or antagonym, autantonym, or enantiodrome, or self-antonym). Doesn't that just make you livid and/or nonplussed?
posted by iamkimiam at 3:54 AM on November 1, 2010


"Couldn't care less" is the phrase. Use the other, and you're wrong. It doesn't matter if have an extensive education or not, it's wrong. You can defend your right to be wrong, you can get pissy towards pedants, you can write lengthy justifications that "somehow *magically* this one phrase is all superdy-duperdy sarcastic and who cares because we all know what I mean," but you'd still be wrong.

Now, anyone who wishes to dispute this with me can form a line to right as the process of kissing my pedantic ass begins shortly.
posted by Edison Carter at 7:07 AM on November 1, 2010


Edison: you seem to have confused 'pedantic' with 'just making shit up and then shrilly insisting that people who don't agree with you are wrong'.
posted by signal at 7:11 AM on November 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


No, I haven't.
posted by Edison Carter at 7:16 AM on November 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some people thought that I couldn't care less, but they were wrong.
posted by inconsequentialist at 8:14 AM on November 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the issue may be down to whether you think of "could care less" or "couldn't care less" as idioms.

If you think of them as idioms, then you just memorize what they mean and you're done.

If you don't think of them as idioms, then you will be struck by two things:

1. "Could care less" doesn't make sense as a collection of individual words whose meaning is synthesized together in the normal way. You can pretend they're sarcasm, but neither you nor anyone else you've heard has actually spoken it with a sarcastic inflection.
2. "Couldn't care less" does make sense as a collection of individual words whose meaning is synthesized together in the normal way

I happen to hate memorization and like it when the words of speech interact with the normal, sensible chemistry that governs the combination of their meanings, so I'm irritated by "could care less". It reminds me of the difference you find between better and poorer math students- those that are willing to derive vs. those that just want you to "give me the formula". The meaning of "couldn't care less" can be derived; the meaning of "could care less" must be memorized.

I acknowledge that this is my personal preference and that there is no way that my "side" will "win", and in terms of frequency of usage has essentially already lost. Sad face.
posted by Jpfed at 8:21 AM on November 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I keep on hearing the word "wrong" thrown out for the phrase "could care less." Wrong as in the phrase is counter-intuitive? I agree. Wrong as in incorrect English? A little bit weaker as arguments have been placed how they would be correct (I personally think of it in the "I could care less, but . . . " way). But wrong as in no one should use it? That's silly. You don't have to use it, but it's an acceptable phrase in colloquial English. I wouldn't use it in an academic paper, but then again, I wouldn't use "I couldn't care less" either as it's still somewhat idiomatic. You can judge people who use it all you want, but for the reasons presented it's an extremely poor marker of what you probably want to infer from it.

If "I could care less" is wrong, I don't want to be right.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:42 AM on November 1, 2010


If "I could care less" is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Well, then! You're in luck.
posted by Edison Carter at 8:59 AM on November 1, 2010


Do you understand my point though, Edison?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:59 AM on November 1, 2010


Pretty much anyone I ever hear use the phrase uses "I could..."

"I could care less."

"I could give a rat's ass"

etc.

I can't remember the last time I hear "I couldn't"

Perhaps it's a generational thing. Are all the people who say "I couldn't care less" over 60? 50?
posted by mrgrimm at 10:29 AM on November 1, 2010


I understand your point, Lord Chancellor, but as Jpfed very nicely puts it, "could" makes no logical sense w/r/t its meaning. It's a (mis-)memorized phrase. "Couldn't" isn't just the way we used to do it; it's more sound.
posted by Edison Carter at 10:53 AM on November 1, 2010


I care a lot. I mean I really, really care. Nevertheless, I could not care less. My caring is so intense and so great in its magnitude that there is no force in the universe that could diminish it.
posted by The World Famous at 10:57 AM on November 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


MeTa. Er, I mean, Language Log.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:01 AM on November 1, 2010


Inflamable mean flammable? Who knew?
posted by fixedgear at 11:05 AM on November 1, 2010


Are all the people who say "I couldn't care less" over 60? 50?

I'm 36 and have never said it as "could care less."
posted by Edison Carter at 11:07 AM on November 1, 2010


I WILL GRANT ONE EXCEPTION.

If you wish to use the incorrect phrasing, you have to say "could care less" in a proper Yiddish accent. THAT I will accept.
posted by Edison Carter at 11:11 AM on November 1, 2010


I'm 59 ("could care a rat's patoot" category). And if women are more likely to speak "correct" English, why is it that most of the people who seem to get most het up about errors are male? Or am I wrong? And is "het up" acceptable?
posted by Peach at 11:44 AM on November 1, 2010


"Couldn't" isn't just the way we used to do it; it's more sound.

I find that "I could care less" rolls off the tongue easier. As some have mentioned, it's not only the logical coherency that determines correctness, but the natural flow of words out of the mouth. As someone who adores language, sometimes the logic of words is overrated.

Note: I'm not adverse to criticality inspecting an idiom; I think it's great to know where phrases come from and if they make sense. However, I think that knowing that Iceland is green and Greenland is icy doesn't mean you should insist on everyone renaming them to the more "correct" monikers.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 11:51 AM on November 1, 2010


Iceland is not really all that green.
posted by The World Famous at 12:02 PM on November 1, 2010


I went through my prescriptivist phase in high school - right around or just after my objectivist phase. Which was prior to my "communism is great in theory" phase which was followed by my militant atheist phase. Ahhh... *sucking air between gritted teeth* I was an insufferable prick.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:05 PM on November 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wow, Baby_Balrog, it's like we're the same person.
posted by brundlefly at 12:14 PM on November 1, 2010


but the natural flow of words out of the mouth

I disagree. Communication is not generally about the rhythm of words. How many other phrases/words that are improperly used that would follow this thesis?

I think that knowing that Iceland is green and Greenland is icy doesn't mean you should insist on everyone renaming them to the more "correct" monikers.

That's not the same thing at all.
posted by Edison Carter at 12:44 PM on November 1, 2010


I found myself in a short discussion about the usage of "literally" recently. I pointed out that it's been used to mean "figuratively" for more than a century-- surely we should accept that definition by now? I was answered that this use causes confusion. It obscures the other, more commonly accepted use of "literally", so that one might have trouble communicating that, say, dogs and cats were dropping from the sky. And I thought that was a pretty good argument, one that doesn't really have anything to do with arbitrary rules for language.

There's a similar problem with the use of "I could care less". If it means that one couldn't care any less, then how does one express that one is actually capable of caring less?

Not that it matters, of course. People will say what they've heard, what they're in the habit of saying. And sometimes, other people will judge them for it.
posted by nathan v at 12:53 PM on November 1, 2010


This whole problem is why we invented "meh".
posted by Dark Messiah at 12:58 PM on November 1, 2010


Maybe I should keep saying "couldn't" and when someone asks about that, I'll explain that I *mean* "could", but I'm being sarcastic.
posted by Edison Carter at 1:04 PM on November 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm going to start saying "I care less."
posted by The World Famous at 1:27 PM on November 1, 2010


Someone once asked me "Could you be anymore rude?", after I yelled something at them. It turns out I could.
posted by nomisxid at 1:55 PM on November 1, 2010


Maybe I should keep saying "couldn't" and when someone asks about that, I'll explain that I *mean* "could", but I'm being sarcastic.

Of course. No one is going to judge you if you say "I couldn't care less". No one will even think twice about it. And of course the Greenland example isn't the same thing; it was a metaphor to illustrate a point (it obviously wasn't a good one for you).

And yes, rhythm of words hugely shapes language, both written and spoken. Pronunciations alter quite a bit just to make combinations easier to say and hear, and a shifting of spelling follows too (thanks Noah Webster). Of course, that's all happening on the individual word level, while phraseology is a little bit broader. I'd pull up examples, but there plenty of thousands of instances of this happening, and everyone has heard them from time to time. Ultimately, the language legitimizes mistakes over time and perhaps this is an situation where you have not legitimized it, but others have.

I guess at some point in time, you just shrug your shoulders about it and move on, and either use it or don't.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 4:07 PM on November 1, 2010


Note: I'm not adverse to criticality inspecting an idiom; I think it's great to know where phrases come from and if they make sense. However, I think that knowing that Iceland is green and Greenland is icy doesn't mean you should insist on everyone renaming them to the more "correct" monikers.

Greenland might be icy and it might not be, but "adverse" used to mean "averse" is just wrong. Alternative fix: add more irony.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 4:44 PM on November 1, 2010


Sorry about that, Flanders; that was a typo. I probably should be more careful in a thread about precision though.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:06 PM on November 1, 2010


I probably should be more careful in a thread about precision though.

You should care less.
posted by The World Famous at 7:45 PM on November 1, 2010


I'm just disappointed that we've gone through this many comments without a single person using the word "cromulent".
posted by mmoncur at 1:55 AM on November 2, 2010


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