Before we start, be honest. Is it a word? Have you used it before? What makes it different from regardless?
Well, you’ll be surprised to know that irregardless is, in fact, a real word.
Superstrict, rule-abiding grammarians are probably mad right now, and that’s completely understandable. Regardless already means “without regard” and adding the prefix ir- (which also means “no”) to the beginning of the word makes no sense, no matter how you look at it.
But there’s one argument that says otherwise. The same argument is the reason irregardless can now be found in many dictionaries.
Irregardless has its roots in popular use. In other words, vernacular speech. Despite not having any logical or morphological meaning, irregardless must be recognized for its social relevance. After all, that’s what words are supposed to do: communicate a message.
So we already know what irregardless means: the same thing as regardless. However, the use of irregardless is a little more nuanced than that. Irregardless is often used in place of regardless and irrespective, so the word is viewed as a portmanteau of the two words. Read the conversation below.
“Mom, I’m going out tonight. I’m going with my friends, and they said they’ll take me home.”
“Regardless, it’s a school night.”
“But, Mom, I finished all my homework. You can check if you like.”
“Irregardless, I said no.”
We see that irregardless is used to shut down a conversation. Regardless doesn’t have a finality to it; irregardless does. The word therefore proves its use in social context.
Irregardless is accepted as a word because of its use and popularity, not the logic behind it. Moreover, it’s not like irregardless is a new word anyway. The word was coined back in the twentieth century. We are only making a fuss about it now because so many new words keep entering the English language every day. Besides, it’s not as if we’ll start using irregardless in formal English. It may be a mainstay in standard English and in the vernacular, but in written English, it’s highly unlikely that it will be acceptable.
So the verdict? Yes, irregardless is a word. Just don’t use it in your research papers, your debates, or your reports anytime soon.
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Got another funny word you’d like us to explain? Shoot us a message! Watch out as we try to explain more things about the chaotic language that is English.
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