to say the least

tufguy

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"The awe of 'white girls' is disturbing to say the least." Piscean wrote this in one of my threads. I would like to know what does it mean? I mean I am confused about "to say the least". I found its meaning but I am still confused. Could you please tell me its meaning?
 

Phaedrus

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"To say the least" is a set phrase, but I'd say that it's elliptical for "to say the least thing that could be said" or "to say the least of what could be said." The phrase implies that other, much harsher things could be said and thereby emphasizes the slightly harsh thing that has been said.
 

tufguy

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"To say the least" is a set phrase, but I'd say that it's elliptical for "to say the least thing that could be said" or "to say the least of what could be said." The phrase implies that other, much harsher things could be said and thereby emphasizes the slightly harsh thing that has been said.

Sorry, I don't understand.
 

Phaedrus

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Sorry, I don't understand.
I don't know what to tell you, then. I would like to add, however, that "to say the least" can be used in positive contexts as well.

That was amazing, to say the least.
 
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