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What is the difference between 'at least' and 'in the least'? What does 'in the least patient' mean?

I'm not in the least patient.

A WIND in the DOOR by MADELEINE L’ENGLE

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  • What in the dictionary explanation doesn't work for you? (Scroll down to the "idioms" section.)
    – Kreiri
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 13:34
  • So as I understand it means - I'm not patient at all.
    – Vitaly
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 13:48
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    I'm not sure who downvoted, but this is a good example of why we ask folks to share their research. I can understand that a learner may not know that "in the least" is idiomatic. However, when you don't at least tell us what you looked up and share what you found, then it's hard to tell if you tried to find the meaning but didn't realize it was an idiom, or if you simply didn't even want to bother with a dictionary.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 14:33

2 Answers 2

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In both expressions "least" means "the smallest amount, number, or degree".

You should at least take a sweater.

This means "The smallest amount of clothing which you should take with you when you go out is a sweater."

I must owe you at least ten dollars.

This means "I am sure I owe you ten dollars, probably more."

I am not in the least patient.

I am not patient even to the smallest degree.

You have not inconvenienced me in the least.

This means "To me this was not even the smallest inconvenience."

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As you have mentioned @Vitaly this can be as interpreted as:

I'm not patient at all.

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