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Consider the following two sentences:

(1) She could not care less about him.

(2) She could not care more about him.

On the one hand, (1) seems to mean that she does not care about him at all, so there is no way for her to care less than having the minimum level of care. But (2) could also mean a similar thing, that there is no way for her to increase the low level of care for him.

On the other hand, it seems that we can interpret (2) to mean that she cares so much about him that there is no way for her to care more than having the maximum level of care. But then (1) could also mean a similar thing, that there is no way for her to decrease the high level of care for him.

How do we really interpret and understand these two sentences?

  • A small note: when you say low level of care, it sounds medical. Perhaps not caring much for him or her would sound less that way. – Lambie Aug 28 '18 at 16:43
  • "Could not care more about ..." is an unusual idiom. I don't think I've sen it used except as a play off of "could not care less". Did you get this from somewhere, or are you just asking about its theoretical meaning? – Andrew Aug 28 '18 at 16:50
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In American English - but not British English, so far as I'm concerned - the two forms I couldn't care less [about something / someone] and I could care less about it are equivalent (in both cases the intended meaning is I don't care at all).

It's not really idiomatic to say She could / couldn't care more about him, except in some rather contrived context where care means to look after, to tend the needs of someone (usually, physical / bodily needs, as in nursing care). But that would usually use a different preposition and word order anyway - She could not care for him more.

Negated or not, you wouldn't often hear the collocation care more in contexts where care means to be interested. Not because it can't have that meaning - simply because I couldn't care less is so common people would tend to avoid similar constructions where the key word has such a different meaning. Even in contexts where there's no chance of being misunderstood, it would still tend to convey unwanted allusions.

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