After this question was put on hold, I am editing this to clarify that I am not seeking "the most wrong answer," but that I am instead asking for a reason for the continued use of a construction that some still haphazardly propose in certain situations.
I'm not at all a prescriptive grammarian so I would like to know the argument one would make for preferring the quoted title formation over the more common,
I've told you at least ten times...
It seems to me this would be the logical construction if you agree with the "rule" that "few" or "fewer" should be used with count nouns. Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage phrases it:
Here is the rule as it is usually encountered: fewer refers to number among things that are counted, and less refers to quantity or amount among things that are measured. This rule is simple enough and easy enough to follow.
Before you think that I'm being difficult or arguing for an "incorrect" answer in offering the title construction as an aberrational example, consider that I've encountered people who do believe this.
- I've had people correct me when saying, for example, "There are at least ten bagels downstairs."
- At least one store has taken note and changed their signs to conform to this "grammatical standard."
- There are plenty of times where it occurs in writings. Examples are below.
"Two of the British Troops, at fewest, were scalped, & one of them before he was dead." - Letter from John Dickinson to Arthur Lee, April 29th, 1775.
"...and end this empty Letter with a Thousand Compliments to Dear Mr. Lysons and his happy Family: 500 at fewest to Miss Sharpe-her Letterto me was both kind and wise." - The Piozzi Letters* by Hester Lynch Piozzi
"...the iron trade had rooted itself so firmly, that, in the intermediate period of the years above mentioned, at fewest fifty additional furnaces were erected." - A Treatise on the Progressive Improvement and Present State* by John Holland
"Reptiles with completely developed hind limbs have at fewest four toes..." - The Great Dinosaur Controversy: A Guide to the Debates* by Keith M. Parsons
To clarify, I am not asking for a summary of the less vs. fewer argument. I am perfectly capable of opening a book or Googling to find such a summary. I am asking for those who are bothered by "10 items or less" signs to provide an argument in favor of universally applying those rules to count nouns. If there is a "rule" as prescriptionists in this area claim, it seems to be the construction in the title would be correct. I disagree, but, I would like to know their answer.
Simplified question: Why would some argue for "10 items or fewer" and not "I've told you at fewest ten times"?
In accordance with this site's rule of Keeping an Open Mind, I ask that this question not be closed or on hold, but be open for those who do have input to contribute.