the slightest faintest noun

the slightest faintest noun

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One must wonder what the precise choice of collocating nouns is for this point on the English Grammar Profile:

77 ADJECTIVES superlatives C2 USE: ‘the slightest’, ‘the faintest’ with a specific range of nouns to express the least amount possible, most frequently following a negative verb form

The word “slightest” already means the least amount possible, so what collocation qualifies?  In their three examples provided, which are probably the main ones they could find, we get the words “idea, interest and explanation.”  “Explanation” does not even appear in the most frequent 100 collocations, which makes one wonder what this “specific range” actually is based on, especially if it is meant to have some kind of possible almost idiomatic meaning…

One could use intuition again and say that the nouns must be connected to “thinking” and therefore include “hint, clue, doubt” and possibly a few other phrases like: “the slightest bit of sense/attention.”

The top 20 “The + slightest + noun” on iWeb corpus:

1 THE SLIGHTEST BIT 4657

further collocates with the following nouns:

1 DIFFERENCE 92

2 ATTENTION 82

3 SENSE 57
4 INTEREST 57

2 THE SLIGHTEST HINT 2246
3 THE SLIGHTEST IDEA 1666
4 THE SLIGHTEST TOUCH 954
5 THE SLIGHTEST MOVEMENT 850
6 THE SLIGHTEST CHANCE 833
7 THE SLIGHTEST CLUE 831
8 THE SLIGHTEST DOUBT 801
9 THE SLIGHTEST INTEREST 712
10 THE SLIGHTEST AMOUNT 709
11 THE SLIGHTEST PROVOCATION 700
12 THE SLIGHTEST CHANGE 608
13 THE SLIGHTEST DEGREE 608
14 THE SLIGHTEST BREEZE 590
15 THE SLIGHTEST SIGN 549
16 THE SLIGHTEST THING 504
17 THE SLIGHTEST DIFFERENCE 434
18 THE SLIGHTEST TRACE 404
19 THE SLIGHTEST MISTAKE 319
20 THE SLIGHTEST HESITATION 290

1 THE FAINTEST IDEA 991

2 THE FAINTEST HINT 289
3 THE FAINTEST CLUE 225
4 THE FAINTEST WHIFF 101
5 THE FAINTEST TRACE 95
6 THE FAINTEST GLIMMER 76
7 THE FAINTEST STARS 68
8 THE FAINTEST STAR 63
9 THE FAINTEST WHISPER 61
10 THE FAINTEST NOTION 56
11 THE FAINTEST SOUND 51
12 THE FAINTEST SHADOW 42
13 THE FAINTEST TOUCH 42
14 THE FAINTEST CHANCE 41
15 THE FAINTEST INTEREST 40
16 THE FAINTEST HOPE 39
17 THE FAINTEST TRACES 38
18 THE FAINTEST OBJECTS 36
19 THE FAINTEST SUGGESTION 29
20 THE FAINTEST POSSIBILITY 24

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