above all / not least.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by maraba, Jan 15, 2007.

  1. maraba

    maraba Senior Member

    I would be very grateful if someone teaches me when to use "above all" and when to use "not least".

    Thank you beforehand.
  2. savannah Senior Member

    English, USA
    Above all means that you consider whatever you are talking about to be of the first importance, that it ranks higher than anything else.

    Ex: "We need to complete all three tasks by Friday, but above all, we need to do them well."

    Or the famous quote from Hamlet: "This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." It means, the most important thing is to be true to oneself.

    Not least is a way of indicating that, while something may not be of the first importance, it is nevertheless not at the bottom of the list.

    Ex: "There are a number of reasons why you should not take that trip, not least of which is your lack of money."
    Hope that helps!
  3. TheMagician Member

    Milton Keynes
    English, England
    "Above all" is defined by Word Reference as "most importantly" or "First and foremost". It is used in a logical argument to pick out to the most important point.

    "Not Least" means that you are making an important point, but not the most important.

    An example:

    "When making tea, there are several things that must be remembered. The tea leaves must be fresh, the pot should be warmed and not least, the water must be boiling when used. Above all, you should allow the tea to brew for just the right amount of time; too long and it will be ruined, too short and it will be too weak."

    Okay, so not everyone may agree with my teamaking practices, but I'm only using it as an example.

    I'd be interested in other people's understanding of these phrases.
  4. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Both of these expressions introduce one of a number of similar things

    Above all introduces something that is the most important point, issue, topic, reason, whatever, of all the points issues, topics, reasons, whatevers that are being discussed.
    This above all: to thine own self be true, ...

    Not least introduces something that is an important point (etc), often being mentioned at the end or perhaps on its own, giving it some particular emphasis but not making it the most important.
    Not least may also be used with deliberate understatement to refer to something really crucial that others might have introduced with above all.

    Edit1: Once again TheMagician gets there first before me. Once again, fortunately, we agree.
    Edit2: Sorry, savannah, I didn't see that you got there before that again :eek: .
  5. konungursvia Banned

    Canada (English)
    I would note that "not least" is a litote meaning simply "including" or "for example".
  6. Maria Ovidia Member

    Brazil - Portuguese
    just to mention how useful que forum is. Today, 28oct08 I googled "not least" trying to see if there was a different meaning fdrom the one i'm accustomed to and found several explanations in the forum.

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