I tend to use two phrases randomly with speech but I'd like know to what's exactly the difference between the two?

Let's suppose for example:

  • Spend at most $20 on the lunch.
  • Spend at least $20 on the lunch.

It seems in both the cases someone will spend $20.

  • Well someone might spend exactly $20, in either case. But it's much more likely, given those criteria and a bit of human nature, that the first bill will be $19.99, and the second significantly higher.
    – JHCL
    Sep 11, 2015 at 14:40

2 Answers 2


At most means maximum, whereas at least means minimum. They are not both going to spend $20 on lunch. One will spend more money and the other will spend less.

  • 1
    Agreed. In some ways, the two phrases are exact opposites... or mathematically: lunch <= $20 OR lunch >= $20
    – OneProton
    Sep 26, 2013 at 21:58

For 'at least', you may spend the minimum of $20. 'at most', the maximum of $20 and not more than that amount.

  • 3
    True, but how is OP or anyone else reading this answer supposed to know it's true? If I posted the exact opposite answer, how could someone distinguish between them? Please include a couple of dictionary definitions for max/min in your answer (you may use the edit feature). Name the specific dictionary, and link back to it if possible.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 1, 2016 at 16:46

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