You can't be too careful

Posted by Russ Cable on September 22, 2005

In Reply to: You can't be too careful posted by R. Berg on September 22, 2005

: : Hi,
: : I wanted to know what is meant by the sentence "You can't be too careful here" and "I couldn't care less". As long as I think on this sentence (the former), I come up with different meanings-hidden,obvious and what not. Any enlightened soul, please HELPPP!!

: "You can't be too careful" is literal and straightforward. It means that no degree of care is too much, because the need for care is great. It's impossible to be TOO careful - that is, more careful than suits the circumstances.

: The sentence seems backward or subtle only because "can't . . . too (something)" is used in a different way - indeed, the opposite way - in sentences like "You can't miss too many deadlines, or you'll get fired."

I remember a sketch from Saturday Night Live where someone said "You can't look too long at the sun." The other characters argued over whether it meant that there was no amount of time that was too long or that you should only look at the sun for a not-too-long time. Of course, they were all blinded before the end of the argument.