Irregardless—right, or wrong?

03 Feb



Read this posting at your own peril. It’s a grammar lesson, the first of many to come, a veritable onslaught of similar postings and a site to which viewers will quickly become addicted. Anyone that adheres to the maxims presented on this site will be swimming upstream, ostracized, isolated and rejected by the multitudes that go with the flow. Ignore them. Stand out from the crowd. Keep swimming upstream.

This posting focuses on the use of irregardless, a word frequently used when a speaker wants to suggest that a certain something is to be disregarded. Its misuse is one of my pet peeves (and they are legion).

I plan to cover all my pet peeves eventually, and I will happily discuss any pet peeve that may be submitted by a viewer. I will also cheerfully answer, or attempt to answer, any question that may be presented, whether on pronunciation, sentence construction, spelling, subject and verb agreement, the use and construction of adverbs, the possessive form of nouns, etc. If I don’t know the answer and cannot find the answer, I will just as cheerfully admit that I don’t know it.

Try me.

As regards—or in regard to—or regarding—irregardless:

Irregardless is not a proper word, regardless of its appearance in dictionaries and regardless of its use in speeches and writings by supposedly erudite persons. It should not be used. One possible exception, perhaps, might be when a speaker is faced with an untutored audience of one or more persons that might tend to accept its use as proper—audiences in certain southern hilly or swampy areas, for example.

The proper word is regardless—it means without regard for, pay no attention to, do not regard. A loving and very understanding wife, for example, might tell her husband “Darling, I love you, regardless of your slovenly appearance and your disgusting bathroom habits.”As used here, the word means “in spite of.” (She may say it, but may not mean it).

Everyone is aware, of course, that the prefix ir means not, and the suffix less means without, therefore the word irregardless contains a double negative.

Less negates regard all by itself—it needs no help from ir.

Now that you’ve read my position on the word irregardless, I’ll give you Wikipedia’s stand:

Usage Note: Irregardless is a word that many mistakenly believe to be correct usage in formal style, when in fact it is used chiefly in nonstandard speech or casual writing. Coined in the United States in the early 20th century, it has met with a blizzard of condemnation for being an improper yoking of irrespective and regardless and for the logical absurdity of combining the negative ir- prefix and -less suffix in a single term. Although one might reasonably argue that it is no different from words with redundant affixes like debone and unravel, it has been considered a blunder for decades and will probably continue to be so.


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