(legal) "Not Less Than One" [definition from staff report on serial killers]

In the staff report about sociopaths/serial killers, Gfactor quotes a definition from the U.S. legal code (underlining added by me)

Does anyone have a reason for saying “not less than one” instead of “at least one”? I admit the possibility that it’s just someone trying to sound more legal-like by being more obfuscatory, but wondered if there’s some not-obvious reason for using the more awkward construction.


Link to Staff Report: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2815/whats-the-difference-between-sociopaths-psychopaths-serial-killers-etc

Mathematically, there is no difference between the two, assuming you are talking about whole numbers only.

In everyday English, there might be a connotation of “at least one” (and maybe a whole lot more!) vs. “not less than one” (if that!).

I’m pretty sure that in addition to being awkward, it’s wrong.

It should be “…no less than…”

Well actually “… no fewer than…” unless you can have partial killings

I’m moving this thread from General Questions ot Comments on Staff Reports because the question is about something from a staff report.

Gfactor
General Questions Moderator

I’ve also added some context to the thread title. Here is a link to the staff report: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2815/whats-the-difference-between-sociopaths-psychopaths-serial-killers-etc

Not that I can see. It’s just a slightly more legalistic-sounding phrase. Were I drafting the law, I would use “at least one.”

You are referring to an urban legend, an old wives’ tale, so to speak; an alleged rule of grammar that has no actual basis in fact. Rather than hijack the thread, I shall simply link to a previous discussion of this contrived shibboleth.