but they could otherwise have hardly been more different

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New Member

I would like to ask a question about the meaning of a sentence. Here is the text:

We might start by looking at Kildall's personality in contrast to Gates'. Popular accounts of these events often boil Gates and Kildall down to caricatures, the maniacally driven East Coast businessman versus the laid-back California hippie. They're actually not awful as caricatures go. Both were wonderful hackers, but they could otherwise have hardly been more different.

Could anyone please tell me what does the text in red mean? Personally, I think it means that they don't have any difference.

Thank you!
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    AE (US English)
    "Could hardly have been more different" means "are very different".

    So different that they "hardly" (probably not) could be "more different".
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