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nciku.com states that 起码 is an adjective meaning "minimum" and 至少 is an adverb meaning at least; but the examples seem to use both words interchangeably. Is one more colloquial than the other? Or is one used only for numerical amounts( It should cost at least $10) and the other for concepts/situations such as "At least the bus isn't late"?

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Just to add that 起码 is an informal and imprecise word. That is why sometimes 最起码 is used. –  杨以轩 Jun 26 '13 at 7:42

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They are almost the same and are interchangeble in most circumstances. Maybe the only difference is that "至少" is more formal than "起码” and is more common in written expression.

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+1 Clear and exactly answers my question. I'll just edit the spelling. Thanks and welcome. –  tao Jun 26 '13 at 7:08

Both 起碼 and 至少 mean "minimum" and "least". They both can be used either as adjectives or as adverbs.

最起碼 is valid, but because 至 means 最. 最至少 is invalid (just like "the least least" and "the most least" are invalid).

至少 has a rarely-used meaning of "very less", which can not be replaced by 起碼.

至少 is a little more formal than 起碼. But in the legal documents, 以上 ("equals to or more than") is more widely used.

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+1 for pointing out the difference between 起碼 and 至少. But I don't agree with 起碼 is as formally (informally) as 至少. 以上 is more formally than the two. Though I have no statistical evidence now, I personally believe 至少 is used much more in official documents than 起碼. Moreover, 以上 means more than, but 至少 means at least, they are not of the same meaning. –  Stan Jun 25 '13 at 14:55
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@Stan I admit my mistake. But to point out, 以上 means equals to or more than. They are the same if you are comparing numbers. (中華民國刑法第十條第一款:稱以上、以下、以內者,俱連本數或本刑計算。)(中华人民共和国刑法第九十九条:本法所称以上、以下、以内,包括本数。) –  johnchen902 Jun 25 '13 at 15:15
    
Yep, that's right XD I almost forget it. –  Stan Jun 25 '13 at 15:40
    
I too have no statistical evidence but I would say 起码 is not a formal word to use for news broadcast or official documents, at least in mainland China. –  NS.X. Jun 25 '13 at 18:48
    
最起碼 is not a legal term at all. It's used in common speech, not just in law. –  deutschZuid Jun 26 '13 at 4:13

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