the last thing I want


the last thing I want


  • I don’t want
  • I especially don’t want or didn’t want
  • used to emphasise to someone else that even if something bad is likely to happen, or has already happened, they did not intend or wish it to happen.
  • the negative outcome of an action is not what was intended by the speaker
  • the speaker intended a positive outcome, but instead something negative happened.
  • the speaker is doing (or is going to do) something that involves a risk of hurting the listener, but is stating explicitly that that is not something she/he wants to do. Sometimes this is used in insincerity.

Example Sentences

  1. The report showed up all the flaws in the project, and that was the last thing I wanted!
  2. The last thing I want is to hurt you, but I have to say it – your fashion sense is abysmal!
  3. The last thing I want is to show the committee in a bad light, but I have to point out the mistakes in this report.
  4. He told me that the last thing he wanted was to hurt me, but I don’t believe him – I think he was just being malicious.
  5. The boy had to be taught a lesson. But the last thing we wanted was for him to have such an extreme reaction. We didn’t intend to alienate him completely.


The origin of this phrase is hard to trace, but its sense is easy to establish:  the last thing, i.e. the thing furthest from our minds, was what in fact, happened.

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