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[kair] /kɛər/
a state of mind in which one is troubled; worry, anxiety, or concern:
He was never free from care.
a cause or object of worry, anxiety, concern, etc.:
Their son has always been a great care to them.
serious attention; solicitude; heed; caution:
She devotes great care to her work.
protection; charge:
He is under the care of a doctor.
temporary keeping, as for the benefit of or until claimed by the owner:
He left his valuables in the care of friends. Address my mail in care of the American Embassy.
grief; suffering; sorrow.
verb (used without object), cared, caring.
to be concerned or solicitous; have thought or regard.
to be concerned or have a special preference (usually used in negative constructions):
I don't care if I do.
to make provision or look out (usually followed by for):
Will you care for the children while I am away?
to have an inclination, liking, fondness, or affection (usually followed by for):
Would you care for dessert? I don't care for him very much.
verb (used with object), cared, caring.
to feel concern about:
He doesn't care what others say.
to wish; desire; like:
Would you care to dance?
couldn't care less, could not care less; be completely unconcerned:
I couldn't care less whether she goes to the party or not.
Also, could care less.
take care,
  1. be alert; be careful:
    Take care that you don't fall on the ice!
  2. take care of yourself; goodbye: used as an expression of parting.
take care of,
  1. to watch over; be responsible for:
    to take care of an invalid.
  2. to act on; deal with; attend to:
    to take care of paying a bill.
Origin of care
before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English caru, cearu, cognate with Gothic kara, Old High German chara lament; (v.) Middle English caren, Old English cearian, carian
Related forms
carer, noun
noncaring, adjective
overcare, noun
uncaring, adjective
1. See concern. 3. To take care, pains, trouble (to do something) implies watchful, conscientious effort to do something exactly right. To take care implies the performance of one particular detail: She took care to close the cover before striking the match. To take pains suggests a sustained carefulness, an effort to see that nothing is overlooked but that every small detail receives attention: to take pains with fine embroidery. To take trouble implies an effort that requires a considerable amount of activity and exertion: to take the trouble to make suitable arrangements.
Usage note
13. Couldn't care less, a phrase used to express indifference, is sometimes heard as could care less, which ought to mean the opposite but is intended to be synonymous with the former phrase. Both versions are common mainly in informal speech. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for couldn't care less


(when transitive, may take a clause as object) to be troubled or concerned; be affected emotionally: he is dying, and she doesn't care
(intransitive; foll by for or about) to have regard, affection, or consideration (for): he cares more for his hobby than his job
(intransitive) foll by for. to have a desire or taste (for): would you care for some tea?
(intransitive) foll by for. to provide physical needs, help, or comfort (for): the nurse cared for her patients
(transitive) to agree or like (to do something): would you care to sit down, please?
for all I care, I couldn't care less, I am completely indifferent
careful or serious attention: under her care the plant flourished, he does his work with care
protective or supervisory control: in the care of a doctor
(often pl) trouble; anxiety; worry
an object of or cause for concern: the baby's illness was her only care
caution: handle with care
care of, at the address of: written on envelopes Usual abbreviation c/o
(social welfare) in care, into care, made the legal responsibility of a local authority by order of a court
Word Origin
Old English cearu (n), cearian (vb), of Germanic origin; compare Old High German chara lament, Latin garrīre to gossip


noun acronym
Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere, Inc.; a federation of US charities, giving financial and technical assistance to many regions of the world
communicated authenticity, regard, empathy: the three qualities believed to be essential in the therapist practising client-centred therapy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for couldn't care less



Old English caru, cearu "sorrow, anxiety, grief," also "burdens of mind; serious mental attention," from Proto-Germanic *karo (cf. Old Saxon kara "sorrow;" Old High German chara "wail, lament;" Gothic kara "sorrow, trouble, care;" German Karfreitag "Good Friday"), from PIE root *gar- "cry out, call, scream" (cf. Irish gairm "shout, cry, call;" see garrulous).

Different sense evolution in related Dutch karig "scanty, frugal," German karg "stingy, scanty." The sense development in English is from "cry" to "lamentation" to "grief." Meaning "charge, oversight, protection" is attested c.1400, the sense in care of in addressing. To take care of "take in hand, do" is from 1580s.


Old English carian, cearian "be anxious, grieve; to feel concern or interest," from Proto-Germanic *karojanan (cf. Old High German charon "to lament," Old Saxon karon "to care, to sorrow"), from the same source as care (n.). OED emphasizes that it is in "no way related to L. cura." Related: Cared; caring.

To not care as a negative dismissal is attested from mid-13c. Phrase couldn't care less is from 1946; could care less in the same sense (with an understood negative) is from 1966. Care also figures in many "similies of indifference" in the form don't care a _____, with the blank filled by fig, pin, button, cent, straw, rush, point, farthing, snap, etc., etc.

Positive senses, e.g. "have an inclination" (1550s); "have fondness for" (1520s) seem to have developed later as mirrors to the earlier negative ones.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for couldn't care less

could not care less

verb phrase

One simply does not care; one is sublimely indifferent •In a curious development, the original British negative form has been changed to affirmative by many US speakers, without change of meaning; such contradiction is more common in slang than in standard speech: I couldn't care less if you like me or not/ I could care less if you like me or not

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Related Abbreviations for couldn't care less


Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere
Cooperative for American Relief to Europe
Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with couldn't care less

couldn't care less

Also,could care less. Be completely indifferent. For example, Pick whatever dessert you want; I couldn't care less, or I could care less about the editor's opinion. This expression originated about 1940 in Britain and for a time invariably used couldn't. About 1960 could was occasionally substituted, and today both versions are used with approximately equal frequency, despite their being antonyms.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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