Irregardless

I’m going to come out with a relatively controversial opinion: I’m rather fond of the word “irregardless.”

And yes, it is a word.

Of irregardless, the Oxford English Dictionary says, “In nonstandard or humorous use: regardless.”

Merriam-Webster elaborates:

Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that “there is no such word.” There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead.

While, perhaps, it’s reputation has not risen over the years, irregardless has actually be in use for quite some time.

Wikipedia sites the first recorded use of irregardless as being in City Gazette & Daily Advertiser (Charleston, South Carolina). June 23, 1795, p.3, though unfortunately that paper doesn’t seem to be available online for confirmation.

But, irregardless of this history, irregardless continues to be frowned upon.

Part of the reason for this disdain is that irregardless is generally considered to be a portmanteau, a combination of irrespective and regardless.

Incidentally, portmanteau comes from a french word that used to mean suitcase and now means coat rack in French, though a portmanteau is still a suitcase in English. Portmanteau also came to mean a word created by squishing two words together when Lewis Carroll had  Humpty Dumpty – a notorious  blowhard – misuse the term in Through the Looking Glass.

While I’m not a fan of many portmanteaus (eg, amazballs), many others are quite helpful and valuable to the English language. I mean really, who doesn’t love brunch?

So if being a portmanteau is not enough to malign irregardless, perhaps a better question is to ask why we need irregardless when you could just use regardless?

That’s a good question and an area for healthy debate.

Personally, I use the two words differently, and therefore value both. Words have character, you see, and the character and cadence of words matter.

Regardless is a word of practicality. Its a good word to use when you’re talking about something reasonable and and a detail won’t effect the outcome. Regardless of the weather, we ought to go…

Irregardless, on the other hand, is a word of such flippant disregard it much better captures the trivialities that plague our modern lives. Why is their an “ir” before the “regardless”?

It’s irregardless, that’s why.

By it’s very existence, irregardless is saying, “yeah I’ve got a double negative and don’t really make sense, but irregardless, I’m a word and I mean what I mean.”

Irregardless. You’ve got to respect that.

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