AskDefine | Define irregardless

Dictionary Definition

irregardless adv : regardless; a combination of irrespective and regardless sometimes used humorously

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

Probably a blend of irrespective and regardless

Pronunciation

  • a UK /ˈɪɹɪ.gɑː(ɹ)d.ləs/|/ˈɪ.ɹɪ.gɑː(ɹ)d.ləs/ /"IrI.gA:(r)d.l@s/|/"I.rI.gA:(r)d.l@s/

Adjective

  1. In the context of "proscribed|and|mainly|US|,|or|jocular": Regardless.
    • 1875, Knights Templar (Masonic order) Reed Commandery, No. 6 (Dayton, Ohio), Grand Excursion to New Orleans
      Dear loved ones were unceremoniously hurried off home, irregardless to any previous arrangement, where they could sit down and recount the incidents of the trip to those who had been left behind
    • 1898, John Murray, Memorials of John Murray of Broughton: Sometime Secretary to Prince Charles Edward, 1740-1747, page 160, printed at the University Press by T. and A. Constable for the Scottish History Society
      Mr. Mcg., far from being unsusceptable of flattery, irregardless of his own private interest, readily assented, and had a paper dictated to him to the following purpose:
    • 1995 January, Katalin É. Kiss (editor), Discourse Configurational Languages, page 67, Oxford University Press, USA
      Object resumptive pronouns corresponding to arguments must always occur...irregardless of the presence and position of the full coindexed object nps.
    • 2003 December 22, Judge Wallace, Jonathan C. Shaw v. Cal Terhune, No. 02-16829, U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
      the crime by definition allowed for the prosecution of both defendants irregardless of which defendant physically pulled the trigger.
    • 2005 February, Karim Murji and John Solomos, Racialization: Studies In Theory And Practice, page 38, Oxford University Press
      Again following Runciman, whether we agree with the biological race concept or not, its continued formal and informal salience confirms that competing racial understandings exist irregardless of whether they are valid truths or subjective speculations.

Usage notes

  • Although well attested, this term is frequently regarded as nonstandard and an illiteracy for regardless or irrespective, and may be inappropriate in some contexts.

Synonyms

Quotations

Dictionary notes

Extensive Definition

Irregardless is a term that has caused controversy since it first appeared in the early twentieth century. It is generally listed in dictionaries as "incorrect" or "nonstandard".

Origin

The origin of irregardless is not known for certain, but the consensus among references is that it is a blend of irrespective and regardless, both of which are commonly accepted standard English words. By blending these words, an illogical word is created. "Since the prefix ir- means 'not' (as it does with irrespective), and the suffix -less means 'without,' irregardless is a double negative."ref Rooney
Irregardless is primarily found in North America, most notably in Boston and surrounding areas, where for instance, it was used in the title of a poetry evening 'irregardless of content' at The Baron of Srebrenica, primarily to keep it in circulation. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, and was first acknowledged in 1912 by the Wentworth American Dialect Dictionary as originating from western Indiana. Barely a decade later, the usage dispute over irregardless was such that, in 1923, Literary Digest published an article titled "Is There Such a Word as Irregardless in the English Language?"ref Murray

Appearance in reference books

One way to follow the progress of and sentiments toward irregardless is by studying how it is described in references throughout the twentieth century. Webster’s New International Dictionary (2nd. Ed. Unabridged) described the word as an erroneous or humorous form of regardless, and attributed it to the United States. Although irregardless was beginning to make its way into the American lexicon, it still was not universally recognized and was missing completely from Fowler's Modern English Usage,ref Fowler published in 1965, nor is irregardless mentioned under the entry for regardless therein. In the last twenty-five years, irregardless has become a common entry in dictionaries and usage reference books. It appears in a wide range of dictionaries including: Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged (1961, repr. 2002),ref Gove The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology (1988), The American Heritage Dictionary (Second College Edition, 1991),ref Berube Microsoft Encarta College Dictionary (2001), and Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition, 2004).ref Agnes

Prescriptive vs. descriptive

The approach taken by lexicographers when documenting a word's uses and limitations can be prescriptive or descriptive. The method used with irregardless is overwhelmingly prescriptive. Much of the criticism comes from the illogical double negative pairing of the prefix (ir-) and suffix (-less), and the argument that irregardless is not, or should not be, a word at all because it lacks the antecedents of a "bona fide nonstandard word." A counterexample is provided in ain't, which has an "ancient genealogy," at which scholars would not dare level such criticisms.
The descriptive approach to "irregardless" is to note that it is considered nonstandard by educated people.

Summary

Irregardless seems to be moving slowly in the direction of standardization. It has gone from nonexistence in the 1910 publication of Etymological Dictionary of the English Language,ref Skeat to being a normality in modern dictionary publications, and it frequently occurs in edited professional prose. The fact that its listing as a "humorous usage" has practically disappeared today supplies further evidence in favor of acceptance. Some argue that adding a second negative to a word like regardless is a humorous way to illustrate an underabundance of irregard. However, strong resistance to the word still remains.
Australian linguist Pam Peters (The Cambridge Guide to English Usage, 2004) suggests that irregardless has become fetishized, since natural examples of this word in corpora of written and spoken English are greatly outnumbered by examples where it is in fact only cited as an incorrect term.
The term "irregardless" has begun to move towards acceptance because incorrect words or grammatical conventions are absorbed by the English language based on common usage. It is apparent that the word originated from regional deviations and was subsequently re-introduced to the wider English-speaking community, and thus the use of the term should be avoided if one takes the position that this word should not enter common use.

Irregardless in popular culture

  • In the Family Guy episode "Lois Kills Stewie" (Part 2), Stewie threatens to consign anyone who uses irregardless to a work camp.
  • In a second season episode ("Irregarding Steve") of American Dad, Steve Smith and Roger the alien make fun of Stan Smith when he uses the term. Steve remarks, "Irregardless? That's not even a real word. You're affixing the negative prefix 'ir-' to 'regardless', but, as 'regardless' is already negative, it's a logical absurdity!"
  • Spoken by Danny Masterson in Puff Puff Pass "Irregardless is not a word! This is going to drive me fucking crazy..."
  • In the short film The Parlor two characters argue over the term:
    • Joey: "Irregardless, she's a bitch."
    • Beth: "Irregardless isn't even a word."
    • Joey: "Yes it is, it means without lack of regard."
  • In the movie The Hebrew Hammer, the main character mentions the term: "I guess I could be chalant about it, but then again I’m not even so sure if that’s a word. Listen Chief, we could stand around arguing all day, making up words like chalant and irregardless, but I got a case to crack.”

References

  1. note SoukhanovSoukhanov, Anne H., ed. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 3rd Ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1992.
  2. note PartridgePartridge, Eric, ed. Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English. New York: Macmillan, 1966.
  3. note BarnhartBarnhart, Robert K., ed. The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology. H. W. Wilson Company, 1988.
  4. note RooneyRooney, Dr. Kathy, ed. Microsoft Encarta College Dictionary. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2001.
  5. note MurrayMurray, James, et al., eds. The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd Ed. Vol. VIII. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.
  6. note FowlerFowler, H[enry] W[atson], and Sir Ernest Gowers, eds. Fowler's Modern English Usage. 2nd Ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1965.
  7. note GoveGove, Phillip B., ed. Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 1981.
  8. note BerubeBerube, Margery S., ed. The American Heritage Dictionary. 2nd College Ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991.
  9. note AgnesAgnes, Michael, ed. Webster's New World College Dictionary. 4th Ed. Cleveland, Ohio: Wiley Publishing, 2004.
  10. note SkeatSkeat, W. W., ed. Etymological Dictionary of the English Language. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910.
  11. note KipferKipfer, Barbara Ann, ed. Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus. New York: Dell Publishing, 1992.
  12. note FlernerFlerner, Stuart and Jess Stein, eds. The Random House Thesaurus. College Ed. New York: Random House, 1984.

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

anyhow, anyway, anywise, at all, at all costs, at any cost, at any rate, by any means, despite, even with, however, in any case, in any event, in any way, in despite of, in spite of, irrespective of, nevertheless, nohow, nonetheless, regardless, regardless of, regardless of cost, spite of, with
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