Nothing quite rubs me the wrong way like people that say "I could care less." It is one of my biggest pet peeves. Don't these people realize that they're not using the phrase correctly?

The proper way to say it, of course, it "I could not care less." This means "I care so little about you and your jive that it is physically and mentally impossible for me to care any less." That is the message you are trying to convey.

However, an intolerable number of people insist on saying "I could care less." What, exactly, does this mean? Doesn't that mean you DO care? That isn't what you're trying to say -- trust me. This error has been allowed to persist for so long that people think it's correct! Even worse, though, are the people that try to make an excuse when you call them on their mistake. They'll say "What I meant was 'I could care less, but I won't.'" Uh, yeah. Whatever. Is that supposed to be deep?

Where is the outrage? If you heard someone say "smooth as a baby's foot" or "You can take this job and shovel it"* wouldn't you correct them? You are doing them a disservice by allowing them to continue to use butchered and erroneous sayings. In the same way, if you hear someone say "I could care less" -- call them on it. Correct them. Consider it your good deed for the day. You will surely be blessed.

* Quote from the movie Demolition Man

The next time you feel compelled to "correct" someone for saying "I could care less," ask yourself these two questions: "Is there any ambiguity of meaning?" "Am I adding anything to this conversation by pointing this out?" You'll find the answers are almost always "no" and "no."

Yeah, "I could care less" has a literal meaning opposite the one intended. And you know what? I could care less. It's an idiomatic expression. In a similar vein are "head over heels" and "cheap at half the price." English is full of them.

People started saying these silly things because they rolled off the tongue a bit easier. Ask any francophone, that's a big motivator for otherwise nonsensical lingual oddities. Or, if you want to see for yourself, check out the staggering number of irregular English verbs.

Why have such nonsensical expressions endured? The garbled expressions are unlikely to see literal use anyway. When was the last time you wanted to indicate that your head was actually above your heels, or that that necklace would be pretty well cheap if only it were half as expensive?

Rather than get in a tizzy over "I could care less," why not spend your time contemplating more pleasant things, like beautiful women? It's better for your health, don't you know.

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